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Wesleyan University

Beyond the Roda: The Berimbau de Barriga in Brazilian Music and Culture

by

Eric A. Galm

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Eric Charry

A Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Wesleyan University in partial fulfillment


of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Music

Middletown, Connecticut

April 2004

UMI Number: 3127555


Copyright 2004 by
Galm, Eric A.

All rights reserved.

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Abstract

The berimbau de barriga is an African-derived gourd-resonated musical bow


that is commonly perceived to be an inseparable component of capoeira, an AfroBrazilian martial art/dance/game. This study pursues the berimbau's historical and
cultural trajectory from vendors and beggars who played musical bows in colonial
Brazilian marketplaces, through rodas (circles) of capoeira, to prominence in
Brazilian popular and art music genres. During the course of the twentieth century,
the berimbau went from being an obscure musical instrument that some believed was
going into extinction, to a Brazilian national instrument. Since the mid-twentieth
century, the berimbau has become increasingly prominent in many facets of Brazilian
culture, including diverse genres of art and popular music, fine arts and literature.
While most previous studies of the berimbau have focused solely on the
berimbau within the context of capoeira, this dissertation pursues new aspects of the
berimbau's meaning and significance in Brazilian music and culture. When a
significant symbol such as the berimbau is appropriated for use in various contexts
and it is released from an original identity, it becomes a cultural icon that takes on a
new range of meanings. There has been resistance to this movement across genres
from both practitioners of the capoeira tradition, and representatives of the newly

adopted genres. These debates include questions regarding the berimbau's validity
and practicality within orchestral contexts, as well as concerns about innovative
berirnbau techniques that some fear may disfigure the capoeira tradition.
I also address issues of how race and class affect the public perception of the
berimbau and berimbau musicians in Brazilian society. Throughout Brazil's history,
the berimbau has represented enslaved Africans and lower-class marginalized
populations. More recently, it has become reinterpreted to become an icon of
contemporary black cultural expression and a symbol of resistance. The berimbau's
survival from the colonial Brazilian era to the present suggests a spiritual triumph in
light of adverse circumstances. Through this process, it has become an active agent
in the struggle against racism and oppression of marginalized Afro-Brazilian
populations that have been subjected to economic and cultural inequalities since the
abolition of slavery in 1888.

Table of Contents
List of Figures (Photos, Illustrations and Lyrics)

List of Musical Transcriptions

vi

List of Accompanying CD Tracks

vii

A Note Regarding Musical Transcriptions and CD Timing Marks

viii

Acknowledgements

xi

Introduction

Objectives of Dissertation
Fieldwork and Methodology
Musical Instruments and Ethnomusicology
Previous Studies of the Berimbau
Review of Brazilian Popular and Art Music Literature
Theoretical Approaches
Organization of Dissertation
Conclusion

Chapter One: Historical Perspectives of the Berimbau and Capoeira


The Berimbau
Brief History of the Berimbau in Brazil
Brief History of Capoeira
Transformations: The Berirnbau's Survival and Formal Association
with Capoeira
The Berimbau and Capoeira in Relation to Brazilian Nationalism

30

11

Black Movements in Brazil


The Banian Blocos Afro
The Berimbau and African-derived Religious Beliefs
The Berimbau, Capoeira and Gender
The Berimbau as a National Symbol
Conclusion

Chapter Two: The Berimbau in Bossa Nova and Popular Music Festivals

85

Bossa Nova and a Modernizing Brazil


Brazilian Popular Music Festivals
Baden Powell
Afro Sambas and "Berimbau"
From Bossa Nova to MPB: Berimbau and Capoeira Themes in
Brazilian Music Festivals
"Lapinha"
Musical Discussion of "Lapinha"
"Lapinha" Epilogue
Gilberto Gil and "Domingo no Parque"
Olodum and "Berimbau"
Conclusion

Chapter Three: The Berimbau in New Genres and Electronic Dance Music
The Bailes da Pesada and Black Rio

132

Ill

Samba Reggae and Reggae


New Genres: Berimbrown (Congopop)
The Berimbau and Electronic Dance Music
M4J: "Capoeira" (Sample of "Clementina")
Ram Science: "Berimbaus"
Conclusion

Chapter Four: Three Perspectives on the Berimbau's Development


as a Solo Instrument.....

170

Nana Vasconcelos
Dinho Nascimento
Ramiro Musotto
Conclusion
Chapter Five: The Berimbau in Brazilian Art Music
Brazilian Art Music
Mario Tavares: Ganguzama
Use of The Berimbau in Ganguzama
Development of Berimbau Notation
D' Anunciao's Two-Stick Technique
Percussion-Based Art Music in Brazil
Luiz Augusto (Tim) Rescala: "Peca para Berimbau e Fita Magnetica"
Conclusion

205

IV

Chapter Six: Conclusion

252

Glossary

267

Appendix A: Song Lyrics

272

Appendix B: Complete Musical Examples

278

Bibliography

296

Discography

309

Videography

311

Interviews

312

List of Figures (Photos, Illustrations and Lyrics)


Figure 1: Map of Brazil
Figure 2: A Game (Jogo) of Capoeira
Figure 3: The Berimbau
Figure 4: Basic Berimbau Technique
Figure 5: Verse Collected by Brandao
Figure 6: Capoeira Logo Utilizing the Berimbau
Figure 7; Berimbau Phone Booth in Bahia
Figure 8: Berimbau Musician Outside of Church
Figure 9: Tocador de Berimbau by Cravo, Jr., 1950
Figure 10: Political Cartoon Depicting Banian Senator's Scandal
Figure 11: Political Cartoon Depicting Bahian Senator's Resignation
Figure 12: Illustration from Children's Story
Figure 13: Luana and Her Magic Berimbau
Figure 14: "Urucungo"
Figure 15: Newspaper Critic's Citing of Capoeira Lyrics
Figure 16: Song about Besouro sung by mestre Traira
Figure 17: "QuandoeuMorrer,disseBesouro"
Figure 18: "Fita Amarela" by Rosa
Figure 19: Samba de Roda attributed to Mano Edgar
Figure 20: "A Melhor Coisa do Mundo"
Figure 21: Lyrics of "Berimbau"
Figure 22: Berimbrown CD Cover
Figure 23: Oba La Vim Ela CD Cover
Figure 24: Berimbrown
Figure 25: Capoeira Ladainha "Beaba do Berimbau"
Figure 26: "Melo do Berimbau"
Figure 27: "Clementina" lyrics
Figure 28: Dinho Nascimento in Performance
Figure 29: Berimbau Blues CD Cover
Figure 30: Gongolo CD Cover
Figure 31: Scenario of Ganguzama
Figure 32: Quilombola lyrics during berimbau intervention
Figure 33: Choral response to Quilombola passage
Figure 34: Tavares Notation of Ganguzama Berimbau Passage
Figure 35: D'Anunciacao Notation Scheme
Figure 36: Shaffer Berimbau Notation
Figure 37: Revised D'Anunciacao Notation
Figure 38: Excerpt from 4 Motivos Nordestinos

6
31
33
35
39
71
72
74
76
78
78
79
80
81
105
110
Ill
114
114
116
128
145
145
146
149
151
157
185
192
194
217
218
219
223
228
229
233
239

VI

List of Musical Transcriptions


Transcribed by Eric A. Galm unless otherwise noted.
Transcription 1: Key to Musical Notation
ix
Transcription 2: Baden Powell's Adaptation of the Berimbau for the Guitar
96
Transcription 3: Variation of Berimbau Motif
97
Transcription 4: "Angola" for Three Berimbaus
98
Transcriptions: Analysis of the Toque de Capoeira Angola
99
Transcription 6: "Lapinha" by Powell and Pinheiro
108
Transcription 7: Mestre Pastinha's version of "Lapinha"
109
Transcription 8: "Quando euMorrer, Disse Besouro"
Ill
Transcription 9: "Fita Amarela"by Noel Rosa
113
Transcription 10: Baiao Rhythm
120
Transcription 11: "O L6 Le" capoeira song and "Domingo no Parque"
121
Transcription 12: Introduction of "Domingo no Parque"
123
Transcription 13: Introduction of "Berimbau"
127
Transcription 14: "Beabfi do Berimbau"
149
Transcription 15: "Mel6 do Berimbau"
151
Transcription 16: "Clementina"
156
Transcription 17: "Capoeira"
158
Transcription 18: "Berimbaus"
166
Transcription 19: "Ai Ai Aide" capoeira song and Vasconcelos Variation
177
Transcription 20: Nana Vasconcelos Rhythmic Ideas with the Berimbau
179
Transcription 21: "Berimbau Blues"
190
Transcription 22: "Hino das Aguas" berimbau excerpt
197
Transcription 23: "Noite de Temporal" Excerpt
199
Transcription 24: Musotto Berimbau Solo with Electronic Sequencer
201
Transcription 25: Comparison of 1979 and 1999 Ganguzama Berimbau Passage.. 225

Vll

List of Accompanying CD Tracks


Track 1: "Berimbau" (Powell 1963-disc)
Track 2: "Berimbau" (Various Artists 2001-disc)
Track 3; "Angola" (Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho 1996-disc)
Track 4: "Lapinha" (Various Artists 1968-disc)
Track 5: "Lapinha" (Pastinha 1969-disc)
Track 6: "Quando Eu Morrer, Disse Besouro" (Suassuna and Dirceu 1975-disc)
Track 7: "Fita Amarela" (Reis 1932-disc)
Track 8: "Domingo no Parque" (Gil 1968-disc)
Track 9: "Domingo no Parque" (Gil 2000-disc)
Track 10: "Berimbau" introduction (Olodum 1992-disc)
Track 11: "Berimbau" (Olodum 1999-disc)
Track 12: "Beaba do Berimbau" (Pastinha 1969-disc)
Track 13: "Mel6 do Berimbau" (Berimbrown 2000-disc)
Track 14: "Clementina" (Vasconcelos 1995-disc)
Track 15: "Capoeira" (M4J 1998-disc)
Track 16: "Berimbaus" (Ram Science 1999-disc)
Track 17: "Ai Ai Aide (Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho 1996-disc)
Track 18: "Ai Ai Aide" as sung by Vasconcelos (Talbot 1971-vid)
Track 19: "O Berimbau" (Vasconcelos 1980-disc)
Track 20: "Berimbau Blues" (D Nascimento 2001a-disc)
Track 21: "Hino das Aguas" (Menezes 1989-disc)
Track 22: "Noite de Temporal" (Rodrigues 1997-disc)
Track 23: "La Danza del Tezcatlipoca Rojo" (Santos n.d.-disc)
Track 24: Berimbau Excerpt from Ganguzama in 1979 (Tavares 1979-disc)
Track 25: Berimbau Excerpt from Ganguzama in 1999 (Tavares 1999-disc)
Track 26: "Capoeira" from 4 Motivos Nordestinos (Escola Brasileira de Musica
1996-disc)
Track 27: "Divertimento para Berimbau" (Escola Brasileira de Musica 1996-disc)
Track 28: "Peca para Berimbau e Fita Magnetica" (Rescala n.d.-disc)

VU1

A Note Regarding Musical Transcriptions and CD Timing Marks

The graphic representation of musical sounds produced by the berimbau has


been a challenge posed to musicians and scholars for decades. In 1958,
ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger distinguished between "prescriptive" and
"descriptive" musical notation schemes (Seeger in Ellingson 1992:142). In this
sense, a musical transcription could function either as a prescription for accurately
reproducing all of the sounds, or as a description the overall effect. While many
notation options exist for the berimbau, I believe Luiz D'Anunciagao (1990a)
introduced one of the most comprehensive berimbau notation systems for performers
and composers (see fig 36).
Although this notation provides a means to comprehensively and
systematically depict all of the sounds produced by the berimbau, it requires the
ability to simultaneously read three separate staff systems. Since my goal for the
musical notation in this study is to provide a brief snapshot for easy comprehension, I
have modified D' Anunciacao's notational scheme in order to capture fundamental
aspects of the berimbau's music, similar in concept to a piano reduction of a complete
orchestral score. As a result of this modification, I am omitting the separate functions
of the left and right hands. This notation has been designed to supplement the
recorded musical examples, and provide a basic schematic outline of the berimbau
music.

IX

In this dissertation, the berimbau notation is depicted on a one-line staff. The


note below the line represents the freely vibrating string, or unaltered fundamental
pitch of the berimbau. The note above the line represents a distinct altered
fundamental pitch produced by pressing the coin firmly against the string. The note
that appears on the line represents an indeterminate buzz sound. In special cases, I
include a second line that depicts overtly exaggerated sounds produced by the gourd
movement against and away from the body (such as Ramiro Musotto) (see trans 1).
Open Fundamental
(freely vibrating string/
no coin contact)

"Repique" indeterminate buzz effect


(light coin contact against string)

Raised Fundamental
(strong coin contact)

Berimbau

Gourd
Movement
Gourd against
musician's body
(closed)

G o i m J a w a y ftom

musician's body
(open)

Transcription 1: Key to Musical Notation

I have also had to make special accommodations for new techniques, such as
in the case of Dinho Nascimento, where I depict the berimbau on a conventional fiveline staff, with a separate one-line staff for the caxixi (small basket rattle). I have
maintained a separate single-line caxixi staff for Ramiro Musotto's solo of "La Danza
del Tezcatlipoca Rojo." In this case, the caxixi has been moved to the electronic
sequencer, and functions as a modified audible click track.
There are two versions of recorded examples for this dissertation. A set of
complete recordings has been deposited with the archive copy, and a single-disc
edited recording has been prepared for general distribution. CD timing marks

corresponding to the original recordings will be provided at the beginning of all


musical transcriptions that do not start at the beginning of the track. In special cases
where this timing may have been altered due to the edited version of the recording,
alternate timings will appear in parentheses directly below the timing mark of the
original. For example if a musical passage occurs at the eight-minute mark, the CD
timing marks will appear as follows:
8:00
(0:00)

If this same example features a transcription that begins 30 seconds after the recorded
passage, the CD timing marks will display:
8:30
(0:30)

In special cases where there are interruptions in the middle of transcriptions, or to


illustrate an example referenced in the text, timing marks are provided at the
beginning of each section.

XI

Acknowledgements
I dedicate this work to my grandfather, Kenneth, J. Galm. His support of my
studies in Brazil in the late 1980s and early 1990s enabled me to explore and build
upon my knowledge of Brazilian percussion music and culture. I sincerely thank him
for his continuing encouragement in my personal and professional career.
Through the process of researching, writing and revising this dissertation, I
have depended upon the generous assistance of many individuals and organizations.
It is clear that this project would not have been possible without the motivation and
support that I have received along the way. My dissertation research received
financial assistance from the United States Fulbright Program and the Comissdo
Fulbright in Brazil, as well as a Dissertation Write-Up Award from Wesleyan
University upon my return from Brazil.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to my dissertation committee, Eric
Charry, Mark Slobin, Samuel Araujo and Claudia Tatinge Nascimento, who have all
provided clear insight and direction for the shaping of the current work, and vision for
future publication. Claudia also worked extensively with me on issues regarding
Portuguese translation, general organization and terminology. Thank you all for the
extra work you devoted towards this project. I would like to give a big thanks to Su
Zheng for her continued support over the years, as well as her participation on my
qualifying exam committee. It is with great regret that I must thank Lise Waxer
posthumously for her moral, academic and professional support over the years. In

XII

addition to serving on my qualifying exam committee, she eagerly solicited drafts,


and helped me to produce material during the early stages in this writing process.
Also thanks to K. David Jackson, Lynn Frederiksen, Sarah Malinoski, Nick Zebb and
John Galm for reading early drafts and offering valuable suggestions that helped me
to clarify my overall narrative.
In Brazil, I thank the Comissdo Fulbright Brasil staff: Marco Antonio da
Rocha, Anderson Lima, Jeferson Goncalves in Brasilia, and Nilza Waldeck, Rita
Moriconi, Marisa Leal and Charles Souza in Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to all of the US
Fulbright scholars who provided a week of exciting academic interdisciplinary
exchange in Brasilia, and especially Rhonda Collier for her help in Sao Paulo and
Brendan Flannery for his help in Salvador. Extra special thanks to Rita and Luca
Moriconi and their daughter, Maria Rita, as well as Rosa and Pedro Zanker and their
family for helping my family to feel at home in Rio.
Thanks to Samuel Araujo, who sponsored my Fulbright research and assisted
with my appointment as Visiting Scholar at the University Federal do Rio de Janeiro.
And thanks to his wife, Ligia Bahia, who helped my family to locate excellent
medical resources. Also at UFRJ, I thank graduate studies director Fa'tima
Tacuchian, professor Leonardo Fuks, graduate students Vincenzo Cambria, Francisca
Marques, and all of the other ethnomusicology students for their lively exchanges,
Portuguese translation assistance, and feedback about my research. I also thank
Elizabeth Travassos, professor at UniRio for her support, as well as the entire staff at
the Biblioteca Amadeu Amaral, especially Luciana de Noronha Versiani who allowed

xm
me to work at her computer for weeks on end. Thanks to, Marcelo Rodolfo, Antdnio
Adolfo, Livio Sansone, Carlos Sandroni, Jos6 Jorge de Carvalho, Raimundo Batista,
Isaura de Asis, Kelly Sabini, Phil Malinoski, Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Zinho
Brown, David Locke, Kai Fikentscher, and many other people who have supported
this project over the past several years.
I send another big thank you to all of my informants and colleagues in Rio:
Luiz D'Anunciagao, Carlos Negreiros, Tim Rescala, Nelson MacSdo, Ramiro
Musotto, Marcos Suzano, and Tandi Gebara; Dinho Nascimento, Manoel Vanni,
Franco Junior, Mestre Negativo, John Boudler, Carlos Stasi, and Eduardo Gianasera
in Sao Paulo; and, Frederico Abreu, Cicero AntSnio, Ivanzinho, Ricardo Souza, and
Angela Liiehning in Salvador. Thanks also to percussionist Di Lutgardes for helping
to locate some key information about art music in Rio de Janeiro.
I am especially grateful to Luiz D' Anunciacao for his mentorship of Brazilian
percussion performance techniques, and his patience and continued encouragement
over the years, which has led to my understanding of many aspects of Brazilian music
and culture. Also thanks to his family for inviting me into their home for an extended
stay during my research trip in 1990-1991.
Finally, this project would not have come to fruition without the support of
my immediate family. Extra special thanks to my wife Amy, my children Kenneth
and Isabella, as well as the entire Galm and Yarbrough families, who have all made
personal sacrifices to accommodate the research and writing process of this
dissertation. Thank you all for your motivation and support!

Introduction

The berimbau de barriga1 is an African-derived gourd-resonated musical bow


that is commonly perceived to be an inseparable component of capoeira, an AfroBrazilian martial art/dance/game.2 This study pursues the berimbau's historical and
cultural trajectory from vendors and beggars who played musical bows in colonial
Brazilian public marketplaces through the rodas (circles) of capoeira, to prominence
in Brazilian popular music and on stage with European instruments of symphony
orchestras. During the course of the twentieth century, the berimbau went from being
an obscure musical instrument that some believed was going into extinction, to a
Brazilian national instrument. Since the mid-twentieth century, the berimbau has
become mcreasingly prominent in many facets of Brazilian culture, including diverse
genres of art and popular music,3 fine arts and literature.
While most previous studies of the berimbau have focused solely on the
berimbau within the context of capoeira, this dissertation pursues new aspects of the
berimbau's meaning and significance in Brazilian music and culture. Some
1

I use "berimbau" for brevity. Exceptions will be noted.


The term "Afro-Brazilian" took on political connotations in the early 1970s. I primarily use this
term in relation to capoeira, African derived religions. See chapter three for a discussion of
contemporary uses of the term "Afro Brasileiro."
3
Neves (1981:15) notes that in Brazil, popular music is "a music of the people, which moves towards
nationalization of its constitutive elements and forms." He continues that erudite music (art music) is
produced by and for the country's elite and was based on European models in association with the
Catholic church. Appleby (1983:95) notes that the terms "m&skafolcldrica (folkioric music), nuisica
popular, (popular music) and miisica erudita or miisica de escola (art music) are generally accepted
terms implying specific musical styles and social functions. However, there is considerably less than a
general agreement as to the meaning of these terms."
2

fundamental questions to be addressed include the following. Through this


movement across diverse genres, how has the berimbau's meaning and significance
changed? In these various contexts, is the utilization of the berimbau limited directly
to capoeira references, or does it acquire new values? How does the berimbau's
symbolism change when people from different societal strata utilize it? This study
investigates examples of the berimbau's role in many areas of contemporary Brazilian
music, and documents its development from solo to ensemble and return to solo
instrument. This new solo context features an enhanced virtuosic element.
When a significant symbol such as the berimbau is appropriated for use in
various contexts and it is released from an original identity, it becomes a cultural icon
that takes on a new range of meanings. There has been resistance to this movement
across genres from both practitioners of the capoeira tradition, and representatives of
the newly adopted genres. These debates include questions regarding the benmbau's
validity and practicality within orchestral contexts, as well as concerns about
innovative berimbau techniques that some fear may disfigure the capoeira tradition.
I also address issues of how race and class affect the public perception of the
berimbau and berimbau musicians in Brazilian society. Throughout Brazil's history,
the berimbau has represented enslaved Africans and lower-class marginalized
populations. More recently, it has become reinterpreted to become an icon of
contemporary black cultural expression and a symbol of resistance. The berimbau's
survival from the colonial Brazilian era to the present suggests a spiritual triumph in
light of adverse circumstances. Through this process, it has become an active agent

in the struggle against racism and oppression of marginalized Afro-Brazilian


populations that have been subjected to economic and cultural inequalities since the
abolition of slavery in 1888.

Objectives of Dissertation
This project is a continuation of work that I began with my Master's thesis,
"The Berimbau de Barriga within the World of Capoeira" (E Galm 1997), which
analyzed the berimbau's prominence, function and performance practice within the
context of capoeira. My primary objective for this dissertation has been to discover
the breadth of the berimbau's presence in Brazilian music and culture beyond the
context of capoeira. Through this process, I have obtained far more leads than I
imagined possible, and as a result, it has been necessary to draw upon selected data
from my research in order to construct a concise narrative. I pursued the berimbau's
presence in colonial Brazilian society as a means to establish connections between the
berimbau and dance in Afro-Brazilian music and culture prior to its formal alignment
with capoeira in the twentieth century.
As many references of the berimbau in contemporary Brazilian music relate
directly to capoeira, I have pursued changes in berimbau musical aesthetics as it has
moved beyond the capoeira tradition. I have also focused on national issues of race,
class and Brazilian nationalism and how they relate to commoditization and
commercialization in the musical genres of Brazilian popular and art music. Rio de

Janeiro emerged as an ideal central location for pursuing the berimbau's presence in
Brazilian art and popular music.
Since the berimbau has become a visible instrument in musical practices
throughout the world, I limit the focus of this investigation to the practice of
berimbau music that is produced within Brazil. As an exception to this focus, I look
in detail at the music and career of Nana" Vasconcelos, who has recorded extensively
both in Brazil and throughout the world. He is the most prominent individual who
introduced the berimbau into global musical markets, and his work has inspired many
musicians throughout the world. It is principally through Vasconcelos's work and
international folklore shows featuring berimbau solos that the berimbau has
developed a strong global identity. Argentine-born percussionist Ramiro Musotto,
discussed in chapter four, demonstrates how Vasconcelos's influence has stretched
beyond Brazil's borders. Consequently, Musotto has established a performance
career in Brazil, and has in turn created new directions for the berimbau in Brazilian
popular music.

Fieldwork and Methodology


Primary fieldwork for this project was conducted at multi-sited research points
in Brazil between August 2000 and July 2001, supported by a Fulbright fellowship.
Initial study and research took place in Brazil during 1989 (five weeks) and 19901991 (six months).

In 2000-2001,1 conducted formal interviews with Brazilian musicians and


composers in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo (see fig 1). Through my
experience as a visiting scholar at the music school of the Universidade Federal do
Rio de Janeiro under the supervision of ethnomusicologist Samuel Araujo, I
participated in intense discussions on a broad spectrum of ideas with faculty and
students who directed me towards new leads for ray project. I presented findings from
my research at the 2 Coldquio de Pesquisa da Pos-Graduagdo at UFRJ, and the
Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music, held in Rio de Janeiro.
I also attended Brazilian ethnomusicology conferences in Rio de Janeiro and Belo
Horizonte, and Brazilian political and cultural seminars in Brasilia and Recife,
sponsored by the Brazilian Fulbright Commission.
I took private lessons with Brazilian percussionist Luiz D'Anunciacao from
March to July 2001. This became a forum for extended interviews regarding his
personal history and ideas about the berimbau in Brazilian music and culture. This
exchange supplemented formal lessons that I took with D'Anunciacao at the Escola
Brasileira de Musica in 1990-1991 and ongoing informal conversations about
Brazilian music and culture that have spanned the years in-between. I also studied
from March to May 2001 with percussionist Carlos Negreiros, whose perspective
about Afro-Brazilian rhythmic ideas utilized in Brazilian popular music was very
informative. These lessons also provided an opportunity to explore in-depth
connections between Brazilian music and culture in more detail.

State capital
-

ftailtoad

Road

Figure 1: Map of Brazil4

Map accessed via internet on June 29, 2003.


(http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/americas/brazil_rel94.jpg)

Library and archival research was conducted principally in Rio de Janeiro at


the Biblioteca Amadeu Amoral at the Museu do Folclore, and the Bihlioteca
National, the Museu da Imdgem e do Som (as well as in Sao Paulo), the UFRJ music
library, and the library at the Centro dos Estudos Afro-Asidticos at the Universidade
do Cdndido Mendes, where I met informally with anthropologist Livio Sansone on
several occasions. I also obtained valuable information from the archives of the
Fundagao Pierre Verger and the Instituto Maud, both in Salvador, and a broad range
of important materials were loaned to me from private collections. Additional
research was conducted through full-text archival resources on the Brazilian
newspaper websites of A Tarde (Salvador), O Globo (Rio de Janeiro), Jornal do
Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Folha de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo), and O Estado de Sao Paulo
(Sao Paulo) where I obtained many leads for recordings that prominently featured the
berimbau. Through these resources, I pinpointed geographical locations of
musicians, which enabled me to arrange interviews with many berimbau musicians
and composers.
During the research process, I remained cognizant of issues regarding the
blurring of lines between researchers and informants, and I often observed that I was
engaged in a cyclical interchange of influencing and being affected by various
ideological perspectives. For example, members of one Brazilian family shared with
me that as a result of our conversations they felt an increased sense of pride and
cultural value in their perception of Brazilian music.

8
Two occasions illustrated some of the prejudices that surround the berimbau.
In one instance, a Brazilian educator became completely speechless when I explained
that I had received governmental support to conduct research on something that she
considered to be so "common" in Brazilian society as the berimbau. She claimed that
since it was such a "simple" instrument, I most likely would not be able to find
anything unique and scholarly to pursue. On another occasion, when I was preparing
to deliver a lecture about the berimbau at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
(UFRJ), I was walking through the halls with a berimbau in my hand, and a middleaged woman began to verbally berate me (and my berimbau) by ultimately
exclaiming: "I detest folkloric things." These experiences reinforced my
assumptions that the berimbau continues to be associated with the lower classes
within Brazilian society.
Technological problems occasionally affected my access to data. During my
interview with Tim Rescala, who wrote a piece for berimbau and magnetic tape in
1980,1 learned that his original and master performance tape recordings had
disintegrated, thus making it impossible to compare and contrast the original sound
sources with the electronically processed results. In another instance, Sao Paulobased DJ and electronic music composer Ramilson Maia conveyed to me that he still
has copies of his original computer files, but he is unable to open them, since they
only run on previous versions of his music sequencing computer programs. The lack
of a professional archive for repository of audio recordings and computer files poses
serious research challenges since access to original data for relatively recent

compositions may be as inaccessible as the original data for pieces that have been
composed in previous decades.5

Musical Instruments and Ethnomusicology


The study of musical instruments has changed dramatically over the course of
the twentieth century. The scope and definition of the field of organology has been
defined and reinterpreted to adapt to the change in scholars' research goals.6 In the
early 1900s, musical instruments were studied from an object-oriented perspective,
whereas more recently, scholars have utilized musical instruments as central focal
points for the investigation of cultural structures and relationships.
Erich Von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs developed one of the most prominent
classification systems in the field of ethnomusicology in their 1914 treatise on the
classification of musical instruments.7 The Hornbostel-Sachs musical instrument
classification system (hereafter H-S) was based on a system devised for cataloging
instruments in a Brussels museum collection by Victor Mahillon in 1888. Mahillon's
system was based on the physical characteristics of sound-production as the most
5

This dilemma is not unique to Brazil, as many professional archives in the United States are
struggling to preserve primary source material on a long-term basis.
6
An anonymous entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music (Anonymous 1984:916) defines
organology as "the descriptive and analytical study of musical instruments," specifying that an
essential aspect of study should include their historical development and use in cross-cultural contexts
in similar or different eras, Ethnomusicologist Klaus Wachsmann (1984:237) considers the study of
instruments as objects as well as components of biological and social musical activity. He believes
that the term "musical instrument" is problematic in itself, since notions of music and sound vary from
culture to culture. As a result, he questions the use of the term "organology" since it takes "the
reference to sound or music for granted." More recently, ethnomusicologist Sue deVale (1990:4) has
defined organology as "the science of sound instruments," focusing on a primary distinction between
"sound" and "music," which encompasses a broader spectrum of material to be incorporated into the
study of the discipline.
7
An entire version in Myers (1992:444-461).

10
important principle of division. His classification scheme was initially modeled after
the traditional European classifications of modern orchestral instrumentsstrings,
winds and percussion. When large numbers of non-western musical instruments were
introduced into the collection, "he juxtaposed categories and imposed uneven
classificatory criterion in order to preserve the prominent status of European musical
instruments" (Dournon 1992:446).8 The H-S scheme was solely interested in the
musical instrument-as-object, by focusing "only on those features which can be
identified from the visible form of the instruments, avoiding subjective preferences
and leaving the instrument itself unmeddled with" (Hornbostel and Sachs 1992:448).
Since the 1960s, a significant trend in organology has been to move away
from the study of a musical instrument as an object, and focus on the meaning and
function of the musical instrument in a societal context. This trend also follows a
general ideological shift in the field of ethnomusicology, from viewing music within
a cultural context, to viewing music as an aspect of culture.9 Mantle Hood (1971)
introduced the organogram, a symbolic classification system based on the H-S
scheme, as a means to visually depict concise taxonomic description. Inspired by
Labanotation, a graphic dance language, Hood aimed to incorporate aspects of
specific performance techniques, ornamentation and decoration, and musical function

Questions have been raised concerning whether Mahillon actually devised this four-part
classification system, or adopted it from similar schemes developed in India. Nevertheless, "he
continues to receive credit for it to this day" (Jairazbhoy 1990:82). The H-S system is based on the
division of musical instruments into four main groups by means of sound production: aerophones
(air), chordophones (vibrating string), membranophones (vibrating membrane), and idiophones (entire
instrument itself produces sound).
9
For a comprehensive debate on this discussion, see Nettl (1983).

11
within social contexts. He also added a fifth "genus" to the H-S framework, the
"electrophone."
In the past three decades, ethnomusicological studies have moved deeper into
socio-cultural explorations of musical instruments. As the breadth of musical
instrument studies diversified into distinct areas, Sue deVale (1990) proposed a model
for analysis of these trends. She suggested that organological studies could be
categorized into an interdisciplinary systematic network featuring three principal and
interlinking branches that could stand alone or work together. These branches
include: "classificatory," which would continue with the development of
classification systems; "analytic," which investigates specific questions about musical
instruments; and "applied," which includes studies related to museum collections,
technological innovation, as it relates to craftsmen, composers and performers. If
these branches work in tandem, they can become: "classificatory/analytic," which
evaluates existing systems and develops new research models; and "analytic/applied,"
which analyzes contributions of museum curators, craftsmen, composers and
performers.10

10

Some examples of recent studies of musical instruments as applied to these categories are as
follows. "Classificatory:" GAMES (Generators And Modifiers of Electronic Sound) (Michael Bakan
et al. 1990:40), which proposed incorporation of electronic sequencers and sound processors into the
H-S scheme. "Analytic:" Paul Berliner (1981), John Schechter (1992) and Laurence Kaptain (1992).
"Applied:" Christina Niles (1978) and Chris Goertzen (1997) both employ the concept of revivals and
new uses for old instruments. "Classificatory/Analytic:" includes the presentation of culture-emerging
musical classification concepts and schemes (Hugo Zemp 1978), new ways to view the life span of a
musical instrument (DeVale 1988), and a comparative study of Brazilian berimbau performance
practice (Kay Shaffer 1982, discussed in next section). "Analytic/Applied:" includes an analysis of
musical instruments through the lens of African American musical aesthetics (Ernest Brown 1990) and
an analysis through organological development (Richard Graham 1991, discussed in next section).

12

The following section features a summary of musical instrument studies from


the late 1950s to the present that relate directly to the berimbau. These studies have
generally been derived from the disciplines of folklore, anthropology and
ethnomusicology.

Previous Studies of the Berimbau


Albano Marinho de Oliveira (1958) published the first detailed study that
investigates the berimbau within a cultural context, specifically capoeira, and includes
related mythological legends and musical transcriptions of berimbau toques (melodicrhythmic patterns). The transcriptions convey only the basic rhythmic aspects of the
berimbau performance, neglecting to demonstrate the melodic-rhythmic qualities of
berimbau music.
The next in-depth study of the berimbau appeared two decades later (Kay
Shaffer 1982 [1976]) and presented a combination of historical and contemporary
ethnographic information. Shaffer's main hypothesis attempts to compare and
contrast berimbau performance practice within the capoeira tradition. His
comparative project was inspired by a list of capoeira toque names presented by
Waldeloir Rego (1968). Shaffer wanted to document, name and record the melodicrhythmic motifs for each capoeira toque and compare and contrast them among
capoeira masters. He discovered that some masters could not recall what they had
shown Rego, and others stated that they purposely misled Rego by claiming to

13
include certain toques within their repertoire that they did not know how to play
(Shaffer 1982:41-42).
Richard Graham (1991) traced the organological development of the
berimbau, explaining that it is an instrument that evolved in Brazil from African
prototypes. Graham studied the development of the berimbau in colonial Brazil
through a historical survey, personal experiments, and by pursuing questions posed
by Gerhard Kubik (1975,1979).11 Tiago de Olivera Pinto (1991) presents a
comprehensive discussion of the berimbau including various organological
classification schemes, and attempts to bridge conventional and TUBS (Time Unit
Box System) notational systems.12 Comparative transcriptions of berimbau
performances by capoeira masters are presented in Shaffer (1982), while
transcriptions and recordings of berimbau performances appear in Pinto (1988-disc
and 1990-disc) and E Galm (1997).
The first work to present a comprehensive overview of berimbau performance
practice within and beyond capoeira was published by Luiz D'Anunciacao (1990a).
He introduced an innovative notational scheme (the first to specifically notate the
placement of the resonance gourd against or away from the body), codified musical
techniques and performance practices in relation to capoeira, presented suggestions

11

Other aspects of Kubik's hypotheses were pursued by Pinto (1994) and Mukuna (1998). Graham's
personal experiments include comparisons of berimbau resonance against a bare chest and a sweater.
He presents plausible hypotheses, which would be strengthened with ethnographic information from
Brazilian berimbau musicians.
12
See Koetting (1970). In my Masters Thesis (E Galm 1997) I present a summary of musical bow
classification schemes, and discuss concepts suggested by the authors above. 1 also discuss the
berimbau in conjunction with Afro-Brazilian cultural values and ideologies drawn from capoeira
practice.

14
for contemporary composers, included definitions and descriptions of extended
performance techniques, and composed a brief didactic work for berimbau and guitar,
thus affording a practical example of theoretical concepts.
Recent interdisciplinary capoeira studies have introduced new ways with
which to pursue the berimbau's function within capoeira. Anthropologist Greg
Downey has analyzed how the berimbau and capoeira can create a total sensory-based
approach to capoeira apprenticeship. He explores beyond the physical aspects of
merely listening to the musical bow, and expands his focus to incorporate a
comprehensive kinesthetic relationship of "feeling" (moving in time), "hearing"
(responding to musical cues for insights of when to attack an opponent), and
"dancing" (restricted movement styles) according to the berimbau's melodic rhythms
(Downey 1998:141-161,2002).13

Review of Brazilian Popular and Art Music Literature


European chroniclers and missionaries provided many descriptions of musical
activity in the Brazilian colonial era. Foreign travelers in the early to mid nineteenth
century provided descriptions of the berimbau's presence in colonial era marketplaces
and slave plantations.14 Although many of these accounts embody superficial

13

Although Downey (1998:141) incorporates a broad interdisciplinary analysis of the berimbau within
the context of capoeira, he does not recognize its pervasiveness in Brazilian society. He states that the
berimbau is now "rarely used outside of capoeira practice., .a few jazz musicians, especially those
experimenting with traditional Bahian sounds, are noteworthy exceptions."
14
For overviews of these accounts in relation to the berimbau, see E Galm (1997), Graham (1991)
Kubik (1979) and Shaffer (1982). For overviews of Latin American art music and art music in Brazil,
see Appleby (1983), Be"hague (1979), Neves (1981) and Mariz (1997).

15
descriptions from an exoticized foreign gaze, they do provide a valuable perspective
of the berimbau's strong presence in Brazil's colonial era.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries some Brazilian
intellectuals undertook scientific cultural studies within the framework of social
evolutionism inspired by French positivism.15 An example of this in relation to music
is Guilherme de Melo's A Miisica no Brasil (The Music of Brazil) (1994), originally
published in 1908. This is the first book on the history of Brazilian music. This work
demonstrates two prominent trends that influenced Brazilian literature and culture.
First is a concept that indigenous, Portuguese and African "races" formed Brazil's
national character. This has come to be known as the myth of Brazil's racial
democracy, in which "Portuguese influence is highlighted as transforming and
reorganizing the other two influences" (Araujo 2000:118), Although emphasis was
placed on cultural mixing, urban popular musics such as tangos, waltzes, polkas and
maxixes, and their composers were excluded from being representative of a national
music. Composers such as Chiquinha Gonzaga and Ernesto Nazareth pioneered
musical syntheses between "sounds of the streets and those of the concert halls"
(Araujo 2000:118) well before recognized art music composers. It appears that
Melo's criterion for recognizing national Brazilian music was based on a composer's
ability to connect Brazilian literary themes with "a vague, equally national 'musical
subject.'" (Araujo 2000:118). In this context, Brazil's most well known composer,
15

This refers to positive associations as they deal with natural phenomena. In Brazil, this began with
Augusto Conde, a 19* century modernist sociologist who followed the trend to scientifically prove
evolutionism. This ideology was later followed by folklorist Silvio Romero, who pursued folklore as a
way to understand the identity and characteristics of the Brazilian people (Araujo 2004-int).

16
Heitor Villa-Lobos was hailed for his incorporation of urban popular music into art
music compositions. Nevertheless, he had been preceded by a generation of popular
music composers who received no recognition from Melo for their contributions
towards the development of Brazilian nationalistic music. As a result of the close
proximity between art and popular music, studies of these two musical genres have
often overlapped. For example, musical genres such as the modinha and choro have
received attention from both popular and art music scholars, since these musical
traditions were well represented in both popular and elite contexts.
In the early 1920s, Brazilian music and culture underwent a modernist
movement that advocated for the creation of a unique Brazilian cultural expression.
This was achieved by incorporating techniques adopted from the masters of European
fine arts with Brazil's diverse range of folkloric expression. Spearheaded by poet
Oswald de Andrade, this process became known as antropofagia (cultural
cannibalism).16 A later important advocate of Brazil's modernist movement was
Mario de Andrade (1972 [1928]) who conducted broad-based studies of musical
expression throughout the country. He presented some of the first musical studies
that incorporated detailed musical notation with song texts in a broad spectrum of
genres including children's songs, drinking songs, and folkloric songs. Nationalist
policies were formally adopted in the 1930s by the populist dictatorship of Getulio
Vargas's Estado Novo (New State), and Afro-Brazilian cultural expressions, such as

This is discussed in more detail in chapters one and five.

17
the samba became nationally promoted as models of Brazilian racial harmony.17 As a
result, Brazilian folk music studies became a tool for the mining of the country's
folkloric manifestations in order to provide "raw materials for the high arts" (Reily
2000:5).
Nationally promoted concepts of music have been shaped by urban middleclass aesthetics as defined by Rio de Janeiro-emergent musical traditions. As a result
of the focus on Rio de Janeiro's musical traditions, popular music studies have been
principally focused on the musical genres of samba, bossa nova, and MPB~Mmica
Popular Brasileira (Popular Brazilian Music) since the late 1950s.
Recent studies have focused on the deconstruction of Brazil's racial myth
(cultural mixing of the Portuguese, indigenous and African heritages) discussed
above. Some of these recent studies reflect on how music has helped to construct
national identity in relation to this tripartite paradigm.18 Other studies pursue how
musical expression functions within a dynamic national culture, and explore revised
notions of Brazilian aesthetic systems.19

Theoretical Approaches
For my analysis of the berimbau in many musical genres and cultural strata, I
draw on concepts presented by various scholars in recent years. In Brazilian
academia, the term "recorte teorico" (theoretical cut) (Seeger 2002:187) represents an

17
18
19

Brazilian nationalism in relation to the berimbau will be explored in Chapter one.


See Reily (1994) and H Vianna (1999).
See Armstrong (2002), Davies (1999) and Sansone (2002)

18
analytical process in which an object is dissected through the use of various
theoretical perspectives, and then later reconstituted to present a comprehensive view
of the object that is being studied. No matter how many ways it is theoretically
deconstructed, the dissected parts are still part of the original source. For example,
Anthony Seeger (2002:187-192) demonstrates how a banana can signify a tropical
metaphor for a single comprehensive music structure. He explains that this "banana"
can be dissected into various slices, with the angle of each cut determined by a
different theoretical approach or question. The results yield multiple perspectives that
can be derived from a single source. I adapt this concept by viewing individual
"bananas" as representative of single traditional, popular and art genres, which can
then be grouped into bunches within a larger superstructure known as "Brazilian
music." The various theoretical cuts that are being performed here are all directed
from the focal viewpoint of the berimbau and related social perspectives. This
approach enables me to explore a broad range of musical genres from various eras.
By selecting a cross-section of musical examples for discussion, I present a
comprehensive analysis of the berimbau's presence in musical genres that span across
multiple levels of social and economic strata within Brazilian society.
Perhaps one of the most important methods for analysis of the berimbau in
Brazilian music and culture is through observation of the development of berimbau
notation schemes. Notational schemes presented by Luiz D'Anunciac,ao (1971a, b,
1990a) and Tiago de Oliveira Pinto (1988-disc, 1990-disc, 1991) have dramatically
enhanced the berimbau's musical value, by calling attention (and assigning value) to

19
the broad range of timbres produced by this musical bow. As a result, these
notational schemes have successfully countered elitist assumptions that the berimbau
was an instrument of limited musical potential.
As a means of pursuing detailed aspects of the berimbau's presence in
Brazilian music cultures, I also draw upon a set of methodological guidelines that
have been proposed by ethnomusicologists Kazadi wa Mukuna and Tiago de Olivera
Pinto (1990-1991) and developed by Mukuna (1997) for comparative analysis of
African musical and cultural expression in the Americas. Mukuna and Pinto (in
Mukuna 2003:25) view music as a total cultural product that incorporates social and
economic aspects as well as "languages, dances, movements, games and special
behaviors pertaining to a dynamic society."
Their model draws upon Fernando Ortiz's notion of "transculturation," but
dismisses the aspect of "acculturation" as proposed by Melville Herskovits (1943) in
a Latin American context.20 Ethnomusicologist Gerhard Kubik (1979:9) has
suggested that African elements in Brazilian society could be viewed as "extensions"
of African cultures as opposed to African survivals or retentions. In contrast,
Mukuna (1997:245) argues that these elements have undergone a transformative
process that ensures their relevance over time. Following this notion, he believes that
ethnomusicological studies should look beyond mere identification and description of
African musical elements. He suggests that scholars should strive to understand

20

Drawing on Melville Herskovits' theories of "acculturation," Ortiz viewed transculturation as a term


to describe "intra-social processes of change." Ortiz expanded Herskovits's notions of African
retentions to distinguish between "authentic" and "modified" cultural forms (Moore 1994:44).

20

"various processes of transculturation, retention, resilience [andj extension" within a


social and historical context.
Through analysis of the cultural convergence of indigenous, African and
European heritages, Mukuna views assimilation as a multi-layered exchange in which
elements may be accepted or rejected by the receiving society. He lists three
principal phases of this process as: an "inventory of cultural materials" in which
people of contrasting backgrounds discover common denominators; the "evaluation"
of these common denominators; and the "reinterpretation of compatible common
denominators" that are transformed and acquire new functions and eventually reach
the process of assimilation. In this respect, Mukuna believes that the berimbau is still
being used in Brazilian culture, because it has been reinterpreted to function in other
cultural contexts beyond its origins (Mukuna 1997:244-245).
I adapt this approach to examine various aspects of the berimbau's presence in
diverse realms of Brazilian music and culture. As capoeira is believed to have been
developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil, these concepts will help with analysis of
the berimbau's movement away from the traditional capoeira context and view how it
has been assimilated into other musical genres. By looking at the berimbau within a
social and historical perspective, I look at questions concerning why the berimbau has
developed as a symbol of national, collective and individual identity that spans a
broad range of social classes.
Anthropologist Livio Sansone (1999) questions which particular elements of
Brazilian culture can be considered African, since many of these associations have

21
been and continue to be derived from superficial observations as opposed to detailed
research. Through a process of commodifying objects that have come to be identified
as icons of "black culture," Sansone demonstrates how such symbols, created by
lower-class populations, have been initially rejected by the broader society.
Following a process of re-packaging and reinterpretation, these symbols then become
fashionable cultural components embraced by people of various racial backgrounds
and social strata. As an example, the exhibition of capoeira has transformed from an
illegal combative fight to being "diversified into an important tourist attraction...as a
site for the redefinition of black identity" (Sansone 1999:28). Other objects that have
become representative of "black" Brazilian culture include dendi (palm oil)
prominent not only in Bahian cooking but also used in dishes prepared in ceremonial
offerings to the orixds (deities) in the pantheon of candomble (a Yoruba-derived
religion); beads and other symbols related to candomble that were once hidden from
plain view are now prominently displayed, sold and traded as commodities; and
fashion styles including the consumption of international and domestic hair products
that accompany each trend. As Sansone summarizes:
Traditional Afro-Brazilian culture drew inspiration from the local context and
from a mythical Africa; the new version of Afro-Brazilian culture... draws
from a larger variety of sources, from traditional Afro-Brazilian culture as
well as international black youth culture. For the young, Africa is
rediscovered through the African-American route. The symbol bank upon
which the new black culture is constructed is larger and more varied than ever
(Sansone 1999:38-39).
In this context, the berimbau and capoeira have thus become Brazilian symbols of
pan-African cultural expression in the Americas that take their place alongside

22

popular globalized regional forms of musical expression such as Jamaican reggae.


These are symbolically used as active agents in struggles against marginalization,
which will be discussed in chapters one and four.
I address these issues through three fundamental questions that can help to
refine these broad discourses on Brazilian music into a manageable framework. The
first concerns questions regarding theoretical orientation of source materials,
including what ideologies and social perspectives (including who speaks and from
what particular point of view) are being utilized, and how and why these have
changed over time. A second aspect questions the function of African-derived
musical instruments in the Americas as icons of marginality or icons of resistance.
This includes elitist misperceptions of "limited" musical instruments as well as
politically correct views of their "proper" uses. A third aspect for consideration
within this framework relates to global pressures versus local responses in music
making practices.
Another important issue that must be addressed is the notion of traditional
music. Record companies used the term "traditional" as a means to categorize
musical performers and performance styles in order to efficiently sell musical
material to specifically targeted markets. In recent years, an alternative term,
"heritage music" (Slobin 2000:12-13) has emerged as a way to describe music that is
representative of a contemporary way of life, as opposed to a fixed folkloric
manifestation of the past. Ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin (2000:12-20) explains that
heritage music is comprised of multiple organizational layers that are constructed

23

from concepts of nationalism, exoticism and diasporic displacement. African-derived


musical and cultural expression in the Americas cannot only be considered diasporic,
which would imply a migratory group of people away from their homeland. Through
centuries of traumatic conditions, African descendants have undergone a process of
invention, which has become symbolically linked to an African homeland, which
Slobin terms "post-diasporic" or "rediasporic." These forms of expression have
multiple local bases throughout the Americas. Returning to the notion of traditional
music, musical expression is occurring in a contemporary transnational context, in
which local genres are being disseminated globally. As a result of the popularity of
international trends, local heritage musics are then reconfigured to accommodate
images that help with the promotion of tourism. As we will see, these cultural ebbs
and flows are present in today's international expansion of the berimbau and capoeira
into global marketplaces. These processes will also be seen in the circular movement
of musical material within Brazil's borders from the 1930s to the 1960s in the genres
of samba and capoeira.
All of these issues are repeatedly revisited in the case study examples that
follow in this dissertation. Although the berimbau has persevered and become
utilized in musical expression of all social classes in Brazil, its legitimacy is
constantly questioned. Issues that need to be considered must focus upon who is
defining the limits for the berimbau's inclusion or exclusion in broader aspects of
Brazilian music and culture, as well as address why these are being defined as points
of contention.

24

Organization of Dissertation
In chapter one, I discuss the berimbau's presence in a historical perspective. I
begin with an overview of the use of the berimbau in Brazilian colonial society, and
pursue issues regarding how it may have become associated with capoeira, and how it
became a Brazilian national symbol in the twentieth century. I conclude this chapter
with an array of examples that demonstrate national interpretations of this musical
bow in Brazilian visual and literary art forms beyond the genre of music.
In chapter two, I trace the emergence of berimbau and capoeira thematic
material in Miisica Popular Brasileira (MPB--Brazilian popular music). During the
initial phase of the bossa nova era in the 1960s, the berimbau (and capoeira motifs)
moved from traditional contexts into mainstream popular music through the song
"Berimbau," composed by guitarist Baden Powell and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes,
who adopted its melodic rhythms for use on the guitar. In the second half of the
chapter, I pursue how MPB composers have utilized themes of the berimbau and
capoeira in nationally televised public song festivals, which became contested
proving grounds for developing notions of "authentic" Brazilian cultural musical
expressions. These festivals flourished and faded under a military dictatorship, which
ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. In this discussion, I focus on three compositions:
"Lapinha," "Domingo no Parque," and "Berimbau" (by Olodum). In "Lapinha," also
by Powell, I analyze how composers have been challenged by the use of material
from the capoeira tradition, and I investigate problems of authorship and authenticity.
"Domingo no Parque" by Gilberto Gil, employed the berimbau as a means to

25
incorporate electronic musical instruments and non-Brazilian musical styles into a
song festival format that had previously featured only acoustic instruments. In the
late 1960s, electronic musical instruments and rock and roll were seen as extensions
of North American cultural imperialism in Brazil, and were therefore vigorously
contested within the context of national song festivals. I conclude this chapter with
discussion of a more recent song that was a part of a regional song festival in the
early 1990s, organized by the socially progressive Bahian carnival-parading
ensemble, Olodum. Their 1992 festival included their composition entitled
"Berimbau," which demonstrates how the motif of the berimbau continues to be a
strong element in defining Brazilian musical expression.
In chapter three, I pursue how the berimbau has been utilized in conjunction
with Brazilian musical genres from the mid-1990s to the present. Topics in this
chapter explore how the berimbau has been used to assist with the process of identity
construction for individuals, groups and new musical genres. Popular music
ensembles discussed include Berimbrown, a popular fusion group that blends imagery
from North American and Brazilian musical styles. I also explore electronic music
compositions that have sampled, filtered and sequenced sounds of the berimbau. For
example, the Sao Paulo group M4J incorporated a sample of previously recorded
berimbau material by Nana Vasconcelos, which transformed this music when it was
incorporated into a new context. In contrast, Ramilson Maia also sampled berimbau
recordings, and through a similar process of electronic filtering and sequencing, he
obtained remarkably different results.

26
In chapter four, I present three prominent berimbau musicians who have each
made distinct contributions to Brazilian popular music: Nana Vasconcelos, Dinho
Nascimento and Ramiro Musotto. I first pursue how the berimbau was
internationally popularized through the work of Brazilian percussionist Nan&
Vasconcelos.21 Vasconcelos is frequently mentioned in Brazil and the United States
as being one of the principal percussionists who successfully moved the berimbau
from a local Brazilian context towards a more contemporary global one. As a result
of his percussive endeavors in American and European jazz networks, he promoted
the berimbau as a featured Brazilian musical instrument within his multi-textural
array of sound sources.22
Following Vasconcelos, I introduce Brazilian berimbau musician Dinho
Nascimento, who has incorporated innovative techniques into his music. Nascimento
is a capoeira practitioner who has encountered resistance from various individuals,
ranging from other capoeira practitioners to people associated with the recording
industry, with regards to his concepts of berimbau performance practice and album
imagery.

21

The berimbau is associated with Brazilian percussionists, since it has been used within the context
of capoeira as a rhythmic instrument alongside other percussion instruments. Although it is technically
a chordophone that produces melodic rhythms, the berimbau has been incorporated into musical
ensembles as a component of the rhythm section
22
Airto Moreira was one of the first Brazilian percussionists who moved to the United States (in the
late 1960s), recorded with prominent fusion jazz artists including Miles Davis, Weather Report, and
Chick Corea/Return to Forever. He was also a professor in the ethnomusicology department at the
University of California at Los Angeles (http://www,airto.com accessed 2 March 2004). Although
Airto's pioneering efforts included the berimbau, Vasconcelos is perceived as the individual who has
developed an innovative approach of berimbau performance practice that contrasts with the capoeira
tradition. Brazilian percussionists initially arrived in the United States as members of Carmen
Miranda's ensemble, and in the early 1960s, percussionist Ruben Bassini performed regularly with
Sergio Mendes in California (Araujo 2004-int).

27

The final berimbau specialist that I present in this chapter is Rarniro Musotto,
a musician who has effectively blended elements of traditional capoeira berimbau
practice with electronic sequencing and studio recording technologies. Nana"
Vasconcelos's international berimbau recordings influenced Musotto, who was born
and raised in Argentina. This case demonstrates a circular movement of global
musics that are being recycled back into the local Brazilian context.
In chapter five, I present the berimbau's use in Brazilian art music and discuss
issues regarding the development of a comprehensive berimbau notation. Central to
this chapter is how the berimbau has been used in symphonic and other art music
contexts. I focus the orchestral work, Ganguzama composed by Mario Tavares in
1958. I also discuss "Peca para Berimbau e Fita Magnetica" (Piece for Berimbau and
Magnetic Tape) by Tim Rescala in 1980, and Brazilian percussionist, scholar and
teacher, Luiz D'Anunciacao, who has performed the works by both Tavares and
Rescala, and also has created his own art music compositions for berimbau.
Following my conclusion in chapter six is an appendix containing complete
song lyrics and another containing complete transcriptions that complement brief
examples referenced within the text.
This dissertation proceeds in the following chronological manner: chapters
one through three trace the berimbau from colonial Brazil to the present in genres of
popular music. Chapter four investigates three individual berimbau musicians from
the late 1960s to the present. Chapter five presents a parallel timeline to that of
chapters two and three, but the discussion is limited to art music. Although some of

28
these sections overlap chronologically, each narrative warrants separate treatment in
order to fully appreciate the material at hand.

Conclusion
This dissertation is the first in-depth study of the berimbau in Brazilian music
and culture beyond the genre of capoeira, perhaps its principal contribution to the
field. By devoting a comprehensive analytical study of the berimbau within Brazilian
music and culture, I demonstrate that this is an extremely important icon that traverses
a broad range of social hierarchies, class and racial boundaries in both national and
global contexts. Although some aspects of the berimbau's historical presence in
colonial Brazil and its performance practices within the context of capoeira have
received scholarly attention, the use of the berimbau in Brazilian popular and art music
has not been extensively studied.23
Through analysis of diverse Brazilian musical genres combined with
ethnographic data, I explore how this uniquely Brazilian instrument has been utilized
in contrasting musical situations. I present a comprehensive portrait of the use and
meaning of the berimbau in Brazilian music and culture by investigating what it has
symbolized in traditional contexts, such as its significance within capoeira, and
observing what it represents today as a metaphor for traditional Brazilian music
prominently featured in many Brazilian music genres. I also explore how the
berimbau has become a marketable symbol of black Brazilian culture, and is one of
23

Graham and Robinson (2003) have begun preliminary work on the spread of the berimbau in a
global context.

29
many icons that are informally exchanged as commodities in the global cultural
marketplace that reinforce notions of African heritage in Brazilian society. These
icons then become important foundations upon which new musical and cultural
expressions are created.

30

Chapter One
Historical Perspectives of the Berimhau and Capoeira

The berimbau represents a unique cultural lens with which to view a historical
trajectory from colonial Brazil to the present. Locating the berimbau within a
Brazilian historical context allows for an expansive exploration of intersections
among race, class, identity construction and symbolic meaning. The berimbau is
encountered in an unusually broad spectrum of deeply embedded social practices
within Brazilian culture. While some African-derived musical instruments have
become extinct in Brazil (such as the marimba)?4 the berimbau has come to represent
one of the most prominent symbols of individual, collective, and national Brazilian
identity.
An example of its emergence in the mid twentieth century can be seen in the
work of folklore scholars Artur Ramos and Edison Cameiro. In 1935, Ramos
cautioned that the berimbau had "almost disappeared in Brazil" (Ramos in Carneiro
1975:16). In 1936, Carneiro (1981) provided a description and photo of the
berimbau, since he believed the musical bow was virtually unknown beyond the city
of Salvador. In the ensuing four decades, the berimbau became so pervasive in
Brazilian society, that Carneiro (1975:15) exclaimed, "who, in this country, at this
point of the century, has still not seen a berimbau?" This impressive shift in status
24

See Elizabeth Travassos (2000) and later in this chapter.

31
raises questions concerning how this musical instrument was able to move from near
extinction in the 1930s to omnipresence in the 1970s.
The contemporary prestige of the berimbau is directly associated with
capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance/game. The berimbau is the predominant
instrument, often played by the capoeira mestre (master). Capoeira takes place within
a roda (circle), where two participants launch into an array of movements,
representing attacks and defenses. While simultaneously dictating the style and pace
of each game, the toques (melodic-rhythmic motifs) performed on the berimbau
convey non-verbal cultural values and codes essential to capoeira practitioners (see fig
2).

Figure 2: A Game (Jogo) of Capoeira (Richter n.d.:19)

32

Both the berimbau and capoeira represent distinct independent traditions that
have developed over a period of several hundred years, yet both are representative of
Afro-Brazilian resistance to slavery, oppression and marginalization. The berimbau
was most likely integrated into capoeira near the beginning of the twentieth century,
and its use continues to move into other areas of Brazilian society and culture. In the
past fifty years, the berimbau has been used to symbolize Afro-Brazilian elements
within Brazilian musical culture, appearing in diverse genres such as bossa nova,
"national" rap ,25 hip-hop, Brazilian funk, and Brazilian art music, thus affirming its
importance in musical and social contexts beyond the genre of capoeira.
This chapter begins with an introduction to the berimbau, including its
development in Brazil. Following this section is a brief presentation of capoeira and
how the berimbau came to be formally associated with the discipline. I also question
why the berimbau has survived in Brazil, while other musical instruments of African
origin have disappeared. I then discuss the berimbau's presence in Brazilian society
beyond the immediate context of capoeira, including its development from an
African-derived musical bow into a national symbol. I also consider how the
berimbau is perceived in relation to Afro-Brazilian religious beliefs, as well as how
the berimbau and capoeira correspond to gender issues. I conclude this section with
selected examples of the berimbau's presence in other Brazilian art mediums.

25

Many Brazilian adaptations of musical genres from the United States are labeled national, as in "rap
national," "rock national," etc.

33

The Berimbau
The berimbau de barriga (belly bow) is an African-derived gourd-resonated
musical bow, in which the gourd is held against the musician's stomach (see fig 3).

U t-:-&\
'

Figure 3: The Berimbau (Ohtake 1988:52)

The berimbau consists of an arco (wooden bow) with a taut corda (steel string)
attached in various ways at each end. A hollowed-out cabaca (calabash resonance
gourd) is secured by a small cotton twine-tuning loop that passes through two holes in
the gourd and encircles the wood and metal string at the lower-end of the bow. This

34

tuning loop creates a fixed point of tension that establishes a fundamental tone.
Maximum resonance and harmonic range of the instrument can be obtained by
placing the tuning loop at a few specific locations where discernible harmonics can be
heard between the tuning loop and lower end of the bow. This is based on the
harmonic nodes on the string, similar to a monochord. The bow is held by placing the
little finger of the left hand under the tuning loop between the bow and the wire, and
the ring and middle fingers of the same hand are wrapped around the wood of the
bow. The thumb and index finger secure a large dobrao (metal coin),26 which can
raise or alter the timbre of the fundamental pitch. In the right hand, a baqueta (thin
long wooden stick) is held between the thumb, index and middle fingers, and a caxixi
(basket rattle often filled with seeds or beans) is placed around the middle and ring
(or ring and little) fingers of the right hand (see fig 4). This performance style is
similar to an Angolan musical bow technique. However, in Angola the string is
altered by pinching it between the thumb and index finger of the left hand, without
the use of an external object, such as a stone or coin (Kubik 1979).
Enslaved Africans in Brazil, who recreated songs, dances, and musical
instruments from their collective memories, developed the berimbau. Shaffer
(1982:9) has found that musical bows have been "used exclusively by black slaves
(Africans and descendants of Africans)," and that there is no evidence of indigenous
musical bows in Brazil. Prototypes of the Brazilian berimbau are of central African

26

The coin is also referred to as moeda. A pedra (stone) can also be used in place of the coin (Shaffer
1982:26).

35
origin, and according to Kubik (1979), the most closely related musical bows are the
mbulumhumba and the hungu from Angola.27

Figure 4: Basic Berimbau Technique (Ohtake 1988:53)

Shaffer (1982:14) believes the term "berimbau" is of Portuguese origin.


Kubik (1979:33) notes that in Portugal the term berimbau refers to the guimbarde
(Jew's harp; see Wright 2001), but does not believe that it is a Portuguese word. In
colonial-era Brazil, African bows existed under an array of names, the most common
of which included urucungo and gunga. Perhaps it is due to the variety of names for
musical bows that the term berimbau became used as a generic label.28 Kubik posits

27

Also see Mukuna (2000) for Central African influences in Afro-Brazilian music and culture, and
related connections with capoeira and the berimbau.
28
Shaffer (1982:14) states: "The capoeira masters say that the name gunga is an African name,
however, the name berimbau is a Portuguese name." Names associated with the berimbau in Brazil
include "berimbau, berimhau-de-barriga, urucungo, rucumbo, uucungo (Cascudo 1972:157-158);

36
that white Brazilians perceived similar sound qualities between the guimbarde and
the African bows since "these instruments create melodies by reinforcing harmonics"
(1979:33). As a result, he believes that the African mouth bow was classified as a
kind of "guimbarde of the mouth" (berimbau de boca); and many gourd-resonated
musical bows were generically labeled "guimbarde of the belly" (berimbau de
barriga). This is a familiar pattern of reinterpretation, the same that made colonial
Europeans in Africa call African lamellophones "thumb-pianos." (Kubik 1979:33)
Consequently, Kubik suggests the name berimbau was "eventually adopted by the
Afro-Brazilians themselves at the expense of the original Angolan names" (1979:33).
Richard Graham (1991) indicates that the first use of the term berimbau to
describe a gourd-resonated musical bow was recorded in 1817. However, Shaffer
states that many Brazilian music scholars believe that this specific citation refers to a
mouth bow (L.F. Tollenare in Shaffer 1982:12).29 The use of a metal (instead of
fiber) string was first recorded in the 1820s (Graham 1991:11); the caxixi was
observed in conjunction with the berimbau in 1856 (Wetherell in Fryer 2000:37); and
although the use of a dobrdo is believed to have been incorporated in the midnineteenth century, it was not documented until 1916 by Manuel Querino (Graham
1991:15).

orucungo, oricungo, uricungo, ricungo, marimhau, gobo, bucurnhumba, gunga, macungo, matungo,
mutungo, marimba (Cascudo 1972:895); humbo, rucumbo, viol&tn, hungo, m'holumbumba, berimbau
de barriga, marimba, rucumbo, urucungo, gobo, bucumbunga, bucumbumba, uricungo, viola de
arame, lucungo (Shaffer 1982: 14); viola, midio (Lewis 1992:137); beira boi, contra-gunga (Lewis
1992:231); and bubumbumha, rukungu, birimbau (Schneider 1991:40).
29
Graham's statement is somewhat confusing, since he cites Tollenare's reference from Shaffer's
work, yet he omits Shaffer's conclusion,

37

Graham suggests that the berimbau has evolved through a process of


distillation from many types of African-derived musical bows. As a result of
"organological homogeneity" (Graham 1991:6), the berimbau has been able to
emerge as a Brazilian national instrument and obtain a higher social status than its
predecessors that maintained African identities. Although the berimbau in Brazil has
been historically connected to people of African descent, many of whom occupy the
lower social strata, this musical bow has undergone transformations that extend to a
broader societal base, and is now "embraced by peoples from divergent ethnic and
socioeconomic groups" (Graham 1991:17).

Brief History of the Berimbau in Brazil


Descriptions of the berimbau de barriga in colonial Brazilian life were a
favorite subject of foreign travelers to Brazil, beginning in the early 1800s.30 Musical
bows appeared in marketplaces and were played exclusively by black street vendors
and beggars until the abolition of slavery 1888. Unique African-derived musical
instruments were employed with the intention to increase sales, and as a result,
instruments such as musical bows had an exotic appeal at a relatively early stage in
Brazilian history.
European chroniclers who traveled to Brazil were frequently enchanted by the
sounds that emerged from the berimbau. They often captured its various physical

30

For historical surveys of the berimbau in Brazilian culture, see Cameiro (1981), Fryer (2000), E
Galrn (1997), Graham (1991), and Shaffer (1982).

38

components and performance techniques in paintings and travel journals. One such
account attempts to equate the berimbau with a violin and Orpheus's lyre:
We note, above all, a black porter who, without having learned the fable and
without knowing the origin of the lyre, would know how to make a violin
with a tortoise shell. Equipped with a very fine single string made from whale;
he took from this instrument singular low sounds, with some analogy with the
human voice; his melodies were monotonous .. .but not even those of Orpheus
produced a better effect. (Denis [1816-1819] in Scheinowitz 1993:328)
Nineteenth-century colonial attitudes towards berimbau musicians can be
observed in the following example cited by Alfredo Brandao (see fig 5), who
researched Afro-Brazilian culture in Alagoas in the early 1930s.31 Although Carneiro
(1975) believes that the type of berimbau referenced in this passage is a mouth bow,
Brandao (1988:48) describes this particular instrument as "a bowl, which the
musician places against his chest," a performance technique directly associated with
the berimbau de barriga. This passage also highlights public perceptions of the
berimbau within the colonial-era, as well as how it was used to demarcate class and
racial distinction among Afro-Brazilians.
They also had a slightly melodious instrument which was given the name
berimbau.. .the sounds that escaped from it were melancholical and sad. In
the dead of night, in the silence of the slave quarters, when the bittersweet
recollections of the distant homeland caused grief within the soul, they chased
these feelings away with the vibrations of musical instruments.
The berimbau was looked at with disdain by the mestigos and mulattoes; only
the Africans played it, and [in that spirit] comes this satirical verse:

31

This work by Brandao was originally presented at the fCongresso Afro-Brasileiro (First AfroBrazilian Congress) in 1935. Although this research was conducted in the early 1930s, Brandao
clearly worked with historical documents, as can be seen in the title of his 1914 publication Vigosa de
Alagoas: O Munkfpo e a Cidade (Notas Historicas, Geographical e Archeologicas ("Exuberance of
Alagoas: The municipal district and the city (Historical, Geographical and Archeological Notes).

39
Sua mde e uma coruja
Que mora no oco de urn pau;
Seu pai negro da Angola
Tocador de berimbau

Your mother is an owl


Who lives in the hole of a
tree stump
Your father is a black man
from Angola
A berimbau player

Figure 5: Verse Collected by Brandao (1988:48)32

The allusion to an owl in the first line of the verse draws upon a strong Brazilian
association between owls and bad luck. Moreover, this phrase is one of many
derogatory references of this nature. In one instance, it is a play on the popular
Brazilian expression feia como uma coruja ("you are as ugly as an owl"), thus
reflecting poorly upon the subject's mother. This reference could also signify that the
mother is a witch, since many superstitions are associated with owls. The comment
regarding the father might draw upon imagery of the vendor, storyteller, or beggar
playing the musical bow in the Brazilian marketplace, thus suggesting that this man is
a lower class skilled laborer. Nonetheless, the allusions to both the mother and the
father are both strongly connected with notions of blackness.
Although there is an abundance of information regarding the separate
traditions of the berimbau and capoeira, capoeira scholars have concluded that there
are no direct references to the berimbau in conjunction with capoeira prior to the
1900s. Oral tradition and many capoeira practitioners suggest that during the colonial
era, capoeira training was able to survive within the confines of slavery. Capoeira

32

An adaptation of this verse is directed at Caboclos (mestizos of indigenous and European ancestry),
which uses the berimbau to reinforce stereotypical indigenous imagery: Caboclo dorme no ch&ol no
oco do pi de pau/ com seu arco e suaflechal tocando seu berimbau ("The caboclo sleeps on the
ground/ in the hole at the foot of a tee/ with his bow and his arrow/ playing his berimbau") (Bola Sete
1997:106).

40

practitioners would train for combat, and when a field hand or slave owner
approached the activity, it instantaneously transformed into a recreational dance
(Lewis 1992:40). Gerhard Kubik (1979) suggests that the berimbau had not been
incorporated into capoeira until after the abolition of slavery in 1888, when capoeira
slowly began to change from a combative fight into a non-contact game.
Descriptions provided by nineteenth-century chroniclers demonstrate how the
berimbau was used as musical accompaniment for dance. In French chronicler
Ferdinand Denis's diary written between 1816 and 1819, he reveals a moment in
which the musical bow is used to accompany dance during an impromptu interaction
between a berimbau musician and a passing pedestrian. This meeting takes place in a
marketplace, and the berimbau musician is described as playing the string in "diverse
manners."
One of his companheiros passes with a bundle on his head; stops, puts it on
the ground, [and] can no longer resist the power of this melancholic buzzing;
the limbs of his body agitate with regularity, but he expresses, almost without
leaving the place, the disdains of love, his pleasures or suffering: the
musician animates and sings words that are inspired by the theme; with
repent our dancer stops, and without directing a single word to the people
around, retakes his bundle and goes away singing to abbreviate his errand
(Denis [1816-1819], in Scheinowitz 1993:329).33
This interaction could have easily taken place with a drum or other musical
instrument, but there is evidence in this passage to demonstrate that the berimbau was
indeed used in association with dance, whether formal or informal, in the early
nineteenth century. In 1858, forty years later, Charles Ribeyrolles (in Fryer 2000)
separately documented the berimbau and capoeira, the latter only accompanied by a
I thank capoeira scholar Frederico de Abreu for providing this reference.

41
drum. In his observation of the hatuque (a central African dance of Bantu origin)
dance, he not only observed that the berimbau provided musical accompaniment, but
it also controlled the speed of the dance, a prominent characteristic of the berimbau
within contemporary capoeira practice.
The following example suggests a possible reference to capoeira being
accompanied by a musical bow as early as the 1880s, and perhaps earlier. Campos
(1941) describes a Bahian popular celebration surrounding a religious procession.
Although Campos's work was published posthumously, he provides a timeline for the
development of the celebration and procession for the Senhor dos Navegantes (Lord
of the Navigators) in Bahia prior to the 1890s.34
The excited dark crowd performed Batuques. Samba. Capoeira circles. One
heardpandeiros[BT&.zilia.n tambourine], cavaquinhos{4-string guitar similar to
a ukulele], violas [10-or-12-string guitar], harmonicas, berimbau and
cadential hand clapping. It was a pandemonium (Campos 1941:131).35
It is plausible that Campos divulges the musical genres and associated musical
instruments in sequential order. In this respect, "Batuques" and "Samba" would be
accompanied by pandeiros, cavaquinhos, violas and harmonicas, many of which are
used in samba today. The music that Campos identifies with capoeira would

34

The first specific date Campos provides is 1891, when he notes a series of official attempts to
separate the church from the public celebration. This eventually resulted in the procession being
limited to the space immediately in front of the church. Campos then speaks of earlier Senhor dos
Navegantes celebrations (demonstrating that this was a well-established tradition by 1891), in which
the statue "traditionally began its procession at 7:00pm" (Campos 1941:131). Pierre Verger (1981:7)
bases his study on official documents from the mid-nineteenth century, and utilizes more recent
documents, such as Campos, as a guide for the knowledge of religious and popular festivals from this
era.
35
Fervilhava a multiddo fusca, Batuques. Sambas. Rodas de capoeiragem, Ouviam-se pandeiros,
cavaquinhos, violas, hanndnicas, berimbau e palmas cadenciadas.
Urn pandem&nio (Campos
1941:131).

42

therefore include the berimbau and cadential hand clapping, two fundamental aspects
that exist today within capoeira musical practice. If this account is accurate, then it
provides evidence that the berimbau had been used in conjunction with capoeira a
few decades before the beginning of the twentieth century.
Kubik (1979:31) suggests that the berimbau came to be integrated into
capoeira "at the turn of the century." He believes that at this time, there was a
migration of non-Yoruba Afro-Brazilians from southern Brazil to Bahia, which
created conditions for the blending and reinterpretation of several similar African
traditions. He believes that capoeira tradition bearers resisted external cultural
influences in order to preserve an Angolan identity. As a compromise, the
carriers of capoeira were willing to include more instruments, but preferred to
adopt an instrument, which was also Angolan: the gourd-resonated musical
bow. This might be.. .how the gourd bow, in Angola and Brazil of past
centuries a solo instrument, became a group instrument in Brazilian capoeira
(Kubik 1979:31).
Although Kubik's observations derived from his own fieldwork, a more
comprehensive investigation into historical studies may deepen understanding of how
the berimbau's musical function changed from a solo instrument in central Africa and
colonial Brazil to a capoeira instrument in the late nineteenth century.

Brief History of Capoeira


Capoeira is an African-derived art form with qualities of dance, acrobatics and
play incorporated into its movement style. The jogo (game) of capoeira takes place in
a circle, formed by capoeiristas (capoeira practitioners). Within the roda (circle),

43

two capoeiristas launch into an array of attacks and corresponding defenses. The
master of the game controls various facets of the dance with a berimbau, by dictating
the tempo and duration of each game. The capoeiristas that surround the dancers
provide musical accompaniment, which includes playing musical instruments,
handclapping, and singing in a call and response manner alternating between leader
and chorus.
The capoeira musical ensemble generally consists of one or more berimbaus, a
pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine), agogd (double-bell), reco-reco (scraper) and
atabaque (similar to a conga drum). If there is an ensemble of three berimbaus, each
instrument is distinguished by the size of the resonating gourd. The largest and
lowest-pitched is the gunga and the smallest and highest-pitched is the viola. The
other berimbau is called the medio (middle); when there is only one present in the
musical ensemble, it is simply called the berimbau. These instruments also have
separate musical functions in which the gunga plays a basic motive with little or no
variation. The medio plays a combination of the basic motive with more variations
than the gunga, although the medio rarely plays any extended variations. The viola is
free to either improvise or reinforce the melodic rhythms established by the other two
berimbaus.36
The name capoeira is believed to have many origins. One of the most popular
is related to new secondary growth that appears after a virgin forest has been clear-cut
(Lewis 1992:42-43). The word capoeira is believed to have derived from the South
36

The master who is directing the game may play any one of these three berimbaus, although they
usually play the gunga or midio in this capacity (D Ferreira 1997-int;24 Jan, Grande 1997-int).

44

American indigenous Tupi language cad (forest) mdpuira (extinct) (Rego 1968:21).
Others believe that the name is derived from the Portuguese capdo (castrated male
chicken) and refers to a chicken coop, perhaps in an allusion to cockfighting (Rego
1968:24).
The history of capoeira in Brazil can be viewed in three major phases: (1)
1500s to 1888, during slavery; (2) 1888 to 1930s, immediately following the abolition
of slavery; and (3) 1930s to the present, which includes the establishment of formal
training academies (Lewis 1992). Oral traditions assert that capoeira was a fight
utilized by enslaved Africans to overtake their masters and escape from slavery.
Identified by authorities as a threat to society, capoeira was outlawed during these
first two phases and its practitioners suffered severe repression by police, and were
sometimes punished by death (Dawson 1994, Karasch 1987). Negative associations
and the marginalization of capoeiristas were so pervasive in Brazilian society that the
word capoeira "became a synonym for bum, bandit and thief (Almeida 1986:25).
Beginning in the 1930s the practice of capoeira was legalized and allowed to operate
behind the closed doors of academies, and through this structure it has developed into
a dance that features moves without contact between opponents. This transformation
was promoted in large part by the Brazilian government, and is discussed later in this
chapter.
The most recent phase of capoeira has spawned two distinct ideological
disciplines representing traditional (Capoeira Angola) and modern (Capoeira
Regional). Capoeira Angola, promoted by mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira

45
Pastinha, 1889-1982 [Almeida 1986]), is seen by many capoeira practitioners as the
preservation of a traditional art form that has been passed along from generation to
generation, and is envisioned primarily as a game. Although capoeira is an artistic
expression developed in Brazil from African martial dances (Dossar 1992, Lewis
1992), the name Capoeira Angola suggests that it has come from a specific location
on the continent of Africa. Capoeira Regional, philosophically viewed as a fight, was
developed by mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis Machado, 1899-1974 [Almeida
1986:32]), who incorporated external movements from the batuque (a central African
dance of Bantu origin) and structural modifications such as the graduated belt
advancement system from Asian-based martial arts. Capoeira scholar John Lowell
Lewis (1992) notes the name Regional was initially used to demarcate the region of
Bahia, and later represented all of the students who have studied with mestre Bimba.37
A 1972 newspaper interview with mestre Bimba in the Jornal do Brasil, suggests that
he adopted the name of Capoeira Regional in response to a bureaucratic process that
would not openly support its African heritage. When he went to the Education
Secretary of Bahia to officially register the name "capoeira de Angola," the term
Angola was rejected. As a result, it was necessary for Bimba "to re-submit the term
luta regional [regional fight] in order for it to be accepted" (Gropper 1972).38

37

Although Lewis (1992:60) gives no dates regarding the shift in meaning of the word Regional, I
assume the former meaning was applicable in the early 1930's and the latter sometime after that
(concurrent with the growth and development of mestre Bimba's students),
38
This statement is contradictory to Bimba's philosophy of creating a type of capoeira that was distinct
from Capoeira Angola as promoted by Pastinha. Since police and governing authorities actively
discouraged public exhibition of African-derived forms of expression including candombli and
capoeira, Bimba's statement may reveal how he developed his style within the parameters of this
authoritarian system.

46
Perhaps the name Angola became accepted in this capacity only after the officially
registered capoeira academies demonstrated that they could maintain a high code of
conduct. Although tnestre Pastrana had instructed capoeira classes for years, he did
not open "the first academy of 'Capoeira Angola' [that was] registered with civil
authorities" until the early 1940s (Downey 1998:84).
Differences between Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional are evident in
both the dance movements and the musical instrumentation. Capoeira Angola is
characterized as a slower game, played low to the ground, and closer to a dance,
whereas Capoeira Regional tends to be faster, higher, and closer to a fight.39
Moreover, Capoeira Regional has been developed as a dance for public display, as
this is the style of capoeira that is almost exclusively featured in folkloric shows.
Capoeira Regional tends to have an unspecified number of berimbaus, whereas
Capoeira Angola maintains a fixed number of three, somewhat similar to the three
atabaques (single-head conical drums) in the sacred drumming associated with
candomble (a Yoruba-derived religion based on a pantheon of spirits that represent
elements of nature).40 Capoeira Regional also tends to have a broader variety of
toques performed within the roda.Ai

39

Reis (2000) presents a good discussion about differences between Capoeira Angola and Capoeira
Regional,
40
Capoeira scholar Ricardo de Souza (1997) suggests that Capoeira Angola musical ensembles did
not consistently employ a fixed number of three berimbaus until the 1970s. Capoeira academies in the
Northeastern United States generally exhibited an unspecified number of berimbaus in the 1980s and
early 1990s. There was movement to a fixed number of three berimbaus following the release of the
Smithsonian Folkways recording Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (1996-disc), which promoted
a strong presence of Capoeira Angola in Brazil and throughout the United States (E Galm 2001).
41
Mestres of Capoeira Angola have acknowledged that they play Capoeira Regional berirnbau toques
in non-capoeira settings (such as informal celebrations). Within the ritual of the roda, they adhere to

47

The incorporation of capoeira academies signaled the beginning of a process


that introduced capoeira into the Brazilian mainstream in the late 1960s and early
1970s. As a result of this process, the social stigma and marginalization associated
with capoeira and its practitioners was de-emphasized as it was transformed from an
African-derived fight into a national Brazilian sport. Today, capoeira has become a
hallmark of Bahian culture that has maintained its identity after having been absorbed
into a national context.
When capoeira turned from a fight into a dance-game, taught in academies, it
was socially rehabilitated. It turned into an expression of popular Brazilian or
Afro-Brazilian culture. Some capoeiristas ... connected to the affirmation of
black and Afro-Brazilian identity, reacted to this development exclusively
called capoeira Angola as part of the cultural heritage of Africans and their
descendants in Brazil (E Travassos 2000:63).
In recent years, Capoeira Angola has become internationally recognized as an
expression of "authentic" Brazilian capoeira, as represented by its assumed direct link
to an African heritage (E Galm 2001, Sonia Travassos 2000).

Transformations: The Berimbau's Survival and Formal Association with


Capoeira
The berimbau's prominence in Brazilian folklore is strongly connected to its
association with capoeira. Other African-derived musical instruments, such as the
marimba (10 or 12-key portable xylophone with gourd resonators), have disappeared
from use in Brazilian musical practice. In a comparative study between these two

toques that correspond to the practice of Capoeira Angola (D Ferreira 1997-int:24 Jan, Grande 1997int).

48
musical instruments, Elizabeth Travassos (2000) suggests that the berimbau has
benefited from a process of urbanization, and thus has successfully moved from a
marginalized universe to one of prestige within and beyond Brazil's borders. In
contrast, the marimba remained in rural communities and became disassociated from
processes of modernization, and has therefore become extinct in Brazil.42 Travassos
describes how this change may have occurred over time:
If the process of societal modernization tends to transform and even eliminate
traditional cultural forms, the general lines of this process suffer injunctions of
diverse levels: traditional forms lose bonds with the ritual, but they are
absorbed in the sphere of the spectacle, for example; others, invested in ethnic
symbolism, become cultivated as mechanisms of affirmations of particular
identities within national societies; others, still, are maintained or recreated
artificially through intervention of social agents connected to the preservation
of folklore (E Travassos 2000:64).
In these terms, the berimbau's symbolism has come to represent a broad range of
locally constructed identities as well as national folklore.
As the berimbau has become inseparably intertwined within the capoeira
ritual, both have served to reinforce the notion of capoeira as a spectacle. Moreover,
it is a central focal point of both Angola (traditional) and Regional (modern) schools
of capoeira, thus affirming its identity as an integral component of all capoeira forms,
regardless of philosophical orientation. Shaffer suggests that the union between the
berimbau and capoeira worked in tandem to ensure each other's survival:

42

It is also possible that the compact size of the berimbau in comparison to the cumbersome marimba
may have also played an active role in the perseverance of this musical bow. Perhaps the performance
technique of holding the berimbau's resonating gourd against the body may have enabled a more
intimate connection between musician and instrument.

49
Because of this association, the two have survived, with the rhythm and the
music of the instrument, assuring the continuation of the sport, and the sport
saving the berimbau from extinction (Shaffer 1982:33).
Musician Dinho Nascimento, who was born and raised in Bahia where he
learned how to play capoeira on the street as opposed to within the structure of
academies, believes that the berimbau was incorporated into capoeira as an agent to
instill a sense of order into the tradition. After the abolition of slavery, capoeira was
essentially a street fight with no established rules. As capoeiristas encountered each
other on the street, order was established through the development of mutual respect
for the berimbau. Participants were obligated to follow rules that were dictated by an
objectthe berimbaurather than the person who was responsible for directing a
particular game.
I think the berimbau came to give the rules. Who gave the rules to capoeira?
It wasn't either Bimba or Pastinha. It was the berimbau. Because when you
play the time [i.e. establish the rhythm], you go there together with me,
because this guy's playing [the berimbau]. So I say that the berimbau is the
mestre... And this resolves whatever fight, whatever thing, because it has to
be respected, it has to be ... and the dance goes with the music. You dance
the part of the music. So the game is supported by the music, and the
berimbau gives it [order]. (D Nascimento 2001-int)43
Capoeira scholar and practitioner Nestor Capoeira (1995:42) reinforces this notion:
"according to the old mestres, 'the berimbau teaches.'"
Within the capoeira academy of mestre Nenel, the son of mestre Bimba, the
berimbau serves as a controlling agent of the dance, yet its music also embodies

43

This hypothesis is concurrent with conflicts between people that I have observed during ray time
spent in Brazil. When a problem arises, it is much more appropriate to channel your anger through an
inanimate object, rather than accuse a person directly. The problem is then viewed as a common
problem between the two parties, which they can attempt to resolve together.

50
historical, symbolic and emotional qualities that form the basis for a deeper, more
complex expression.
We preserve the berimbau as the principal master of our work, by following
the rhythms of the berimbau. Not only for capoeira, but also in the past, the
berimbau was used for other religious manifestations, and was used by the
ambulant vendors who used the berimbau to call attention for the selling of
their products. And ... the berimbau serves for whoever ... listens to the
melody that it gives, who feels the effects of the sonorous waves of the
berimbau, [whether] melancholy, sadness, or stimulus.... Some music is
melancholic, like Mna,44 which plays very sad, which is perhaps why people
use it to accompany funerals. (Nenel 2001-int)
Oral tradition suggests that the berimbau toque Cavalaria was used in the
1920s to warn capoeira practitioners of mounted police who approached on
horseback.45 Nestor Capoeira (1995) recalls mestre Pastinha's description of how
sharp objects were attached to each end of the berimbau, thus converting it into a
weapon: "In the moment of truth it would cease to be a musical instrument and would
turn into a hand sickle" (Pastinha in Capoeira 1995:41). Capoeira scholar Leticia
Vidor de Sousa Reis (2000) believes that this use of the berimbau as a defensive
instrument against police repression is an invention of Bahian capoeira tradition that
is maintained within the collective memory of black resistance in the region. She
hypothesizes that the berimbau's connection to capoeira serves as a powerful symbol
of distinction from white Brazilians. As a result of the berimbau's strong
representations of African culture, themes of capoeira's African origins have been
44

liina is a berimbau toque believed to have been created by mestre Bimba. See E Galm (1997) for
transcriptions of how Una has been observed in capoeira and funeral contexts, and Monates (1999) for
a comprehensive discussion of how luna had likely developed from a northeastern viola (guitar)
tradition. According to mestre Nenel (2001-int), Mestre Bimba was a proficient viola musician.
45
For a description of how this is discussed by Mestre Jofio Grande, see E Galm (1997:57). Grande
demonstrates this concept musically in a berimbau video documentary (Ornellas and Tourinho 1989vid).

51
reinforced through this association. In this context, the berirabau presents a dual
nature that is "simultaneously sacred and profane, weapon and musical instrument"
and as a result of these ambiguities, the berimbau has become "an ethnic symbol of
the black Brazilian" (Reis 2000:198-199).
If the berimbau is considered a symbol of black resistance, its portability,
shape and pitch range should be considered significant factors in this equation. A
single berimbau can be equated to the vocal range of an individual person. When this
is combined with others of varying sizes and ranges, and played in contrasting ways,
a broader range of sound, and stronger group unity can be conveyed.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Banian capoeira masters began to move southward
through Brazil, and establish academies in large urban areas, such as Rio de Janeiro
and Sao Paulo. Capoeira began to expand to countries outside of Brazil, such as
Europe and the United States, in the 1970s. Promoted principally as a sport, capoeira
was able to shed some of its social stigma within Brazil. Elizabeth Travassos
comments that capoeira,
was able to grab a hold of the urban middle classes who practiced it as a sport,
mixing dance with game, without any ethnic content, or as a distinctive
expression of Afro-Brazilian culture. In both of the cases, the apprenticeship
and use of the berimbau are indispensable, and have assisted the instrument
with gaining ample publicity. The expansion of capoeira established that
aspect of the berimbau and favored the emancipation of the instrument from
its traditional use: today, it is used in popular music as a soloist instrument
and in percussion ensembles. (E Travassos 2000:63)
In this sense, capoeira has undergone a transition, moving from an impoverished
Afro-Brazilian lower class to a more economically and racially diverse middle class

52

population, where it is casually practiced as a sport, with less emphasis on AfroBrazilian cultural elements.
Nevertheless, both the berimbau and capoeira have assisted with each other's
survival, through transformation into an international sport, and as a result, the
berimbau has gained an international presence as an instrument that has been
incorporated into a broad range of musical contexts. Through this process, the
berimbau and capoeira have not only become symbols of Afro-Brazilian culture
within Brazil, but also national icons of Brazilian culture, as viewed from a global
perspective. Moreover, in international music contexts, the berimbau has been able to
maintain its presence and identity as a distinctly Brazilian musical bow, often
featured as a novelty instrument by percussionists and musicians who are not of
Brazilian origin.

The Berimbau and Capoeira in Relation to Brazilian Nationalism


Both the berimbau and capoeira are national symbols of Brazilian culture.
This developmental process can be traced to the early twentieth century, when Brazil
began to look inward for local artistic and intellectual production, as a means to forge
a national style of expression. The concept of brasilidade or Brazilian identity is a
constantly changing entity that is being redefined over time. Ethnomusicologist
Samuel Araujo (2000:115) reminds us that the Portuguese language, the most
prevalent unifying feature of Brazilian national culture, is actually highly fragmented

53
"due to the influence of various co-existing systems of production, cultural models
and social hierarchies, which change on a daily basis,"
Araiijo suggests that the concept of Brazilian identity can be condensed into a
set of cultural goods that are sold in the marketplace, and their relative value is
represented by monetary payments for specific products. The large urban centers
such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have been the dominant culture producers of the
nation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Regional domestic markets have
appeared in recent years that are creating notions of a constantly changing brasilidade
that are being redefined and reinterpreted in domestic and international contexts.
One of the defining moments in Brazilian cultural nationalism was the broadbased modernismo (modernist) movement, which included expressions in literature,
fine arts and art music, launched at the Semana da Arte Moderna (Week of Modern
Art) that transpired in Sao Paulo in February 1922, spearheaded by notable young
literary figures Oswald de Andrade and MMo de Andrade. Principally organized by
poet Oswald de Andrade, this event was designed to coincide with the centenary of
Brazil's independence, with an intent to expand the notion of independence beyond
the political realm to include moral and "cognitive" aspects (Neves 1981:36). As a
result of this encounter, Oswald de Andrade developed various "manifestos" that
suggested if Brazil were to compete with European fine art production, they could not
completely reject the European masters. He proposed that Brazilian artists should
draw upon European technical innovations as well as incorporate elements of Brazil's
regional forms of expression to develop their own national styles. Oswald De

54

Andrade's (1928) "Manifesto Antropofago" (Cannibal Manifesto) outlined principals


based on antropofagia (cultural cannibalism), where European composition and
literary techniques would be "consumed" by Brazilian cultural producers, and
through a process of incorporating unique Brazilian cultural elements, new forms of
expression would emerge.46
The berimbau has developed as a symbol of resistance for popular music
artists as well as capoeira practitioners. In the 1930s, Brazilian governmental
institutions began a process that appropriated the berimbau and capoeira, and
transformed them into national symbols of folkloric expression. Popular musicians
in the 1960s drew on this symbolism to react against censorship imposed by the
military dictatorship that seized power in 1964. This is discussed in chapter two. For
capoeira practitioners and some Afro-Brazilians, the berimbau and capoeira represent
active agents against racially motivated oppression, perhaps derived from oral
traditions that cite capoeira as an effective means to escape from slavery.47
One of the most internationally well-known works regarding Brazilian racial
ideologies is Gilberto Freyre's Casa Grande & Senzala (1933),48 which promoted
beneficial aspects of the mestigagem process of "whitening" in Brazil. One of
46

For a descriptive analysis, see Jackson (1979) and Perrone (1996).


This view is extremely prevalent among capoeiristas. In contrast, Lewis (1992) questions the
practicality of the use of capoeira as a weapon in the quilombos (encampments of escaped slaves), as
he believes that a strong focus would be directed towards developing traditional weapons. However,
historical evidence from the twentieth century confirms that capoeira has been utilized as a military
strategy in Brazil's war against Paraguay and to quell isolated domestic conflicts in Rio de Janeiro
(Almeida 1986:27-28), Perhaps capoeira was most effective as a psychological weapon, or as a
symbol of resistance, When this resistance was given a physical form, it could, in certain
circumstances, turn into true physical resistance.
*s Literally translated as Big House (slaveowner's house) and the Slave Quarters. Published in English
translation as The Masters and the Slaves in 1946,
47

55
Freyre's main themes was to identify and define an ideal Brazilian culture as a
carefully balanced combination of Portuguese, African and indigenous traits. He
believed that this process would yield a unique mestigo (mixed-race) population, and
thus become a distinctive national characteristic. As a result, Brazil's national
amalgamation would eventually emerge as a "racial democracy," thus highlighting
the valued European traits, and enhancing them with desirable aspects of African and
indigenous traits, while simultaneously eliminating aspects that were considered less
desirable.
This ideology was adopted by the authoritarian government of Getulio
Vargas, who ruled as president and dictator from 1930 to 1954.49 Vargas built a
"Liberal Alliance" coalition, which was comprised of prominent military officials, as
well as leaders from non-coffee producing states which were geographically
dispersed ranging from the northeast to the far south of the country.50 Recognizing
regional and cultural differences, the Liberal Alliance identified the need for the
development of a national ideology to help unify the diverse cultures of these regions.
In 1937, Vargas manipulated aspects of Freyre's "ethnic integration" concepts, and
incorporated them as "an official euphemism for race mixing, which became formal
policy for the authoritarian Estado Novo (New State) (H Vianna 1999;51).51

49

General Eurico Dutra led the government from 1946 to 1951. He "seemed to promise a
continuation of the Vargas system without the authoritarian trappings" (Skidmore 1986:63).
5(1
Skidmore (1986:11) notes that coffee-producing states eventually joined the coalition in reaction to
a failed political policy regarding coffee prices.
51
Of course, processes of miscegenation had been occurring in Brazilian society for 400 years prior to
the development of these national policies.

56
Brazilian anthropologist Hermano Vianna (1999:48) provides a detailed
discussion of how this process was utilized for the construction of national symbols
since the beginning of the twentieth century. He demonstrates how samba music
from Rio de Janeiro adopted the mulatto as an ideal symbol of "progress." The
mulatto then became a symbol of industrial progress, since samba was centered in the
context of an urban setting. As a result, samba as a national symbol has been
developed as a central focal point of this process, while other musical styles are
portrayed as secondary tiers that are representative of regional distinction.52
Additional symbols of black culture were also targeted by the Vargas regime
as a means to incorporate symbols of resistance into his national scheme. Capoeira is
one such example, which was legalized by the Vargas government in the 1930s,
although its practice was limited to enclosed academies that were registered with the
police. Vargas envisioned capoeira as a sport, and believed this would be
fundamental to implementation of his nationalist agenda. He supported the idea that
"physical education could be used to instill a sense of discipline in children if taught
at an early age" (Capoeira 1995:12).53 In 1953, Vargas declared capoeira "the only
truly national [Brazilian] sport" (Lewis 1992:60). Capoeira continues to be
incorporated into the country's nationalist agenda, as variants of Capoeira Regional
are currently taught in Military Police training academies in Brazil (Sansone 1999).

52

Vianna (1999:49) specifically cites caipira ("country music") from Sao Paulo, and rural
northeastern rhythms.
53
Vargas was closely aligned with Nazi Germany in the 1930s. His physical education aspirations
were derived from Mussolini's and Hitler's emphasis on youth, body and athleticism (C Nascimento
2004-int).

57

In the past two decades, capoeira apprenticeship has increasingly become utilized in
Brazil as a social service program to work with homeless and at-risk youth
populations (Sansone and Santos 1999).
Although capoeira has emerged as a national sport, it is not necessarily
accepted in the Brazilian mainstream as an Afro-Brazilian cultural expression. As it
transforms towards a recreational exercise activity, it loses identification with its
African heritage. This is due in part to a complex interrelationship between
definitions of race and class in Brazil. Michael Hanchard (1994) discusses how
contradictory and confusing racial categories and terminology have developed in
Brazil, explaining that once a common framework of racial identity has been
constructed, it can then be reinterpreted and redefined by all participants, thereby
thwarting unified political organization. Hanchard believes that there are factors
utilized within Brazilian society that simultaneously promote racial discrimination
and deny its existence: "This process assists in the reproduction of social inequalities
between whites and non-whites while simultaneously promoting a false premise of
racial equality between them" (Hanchard 1994:6). Another way of looking at these
processes is through analysis of various types of Brazilian black activist movements
and organizations.

Black Movements in Brazil


Anthropologist John Burdick (1998) has studied black movements in Brazil,
and he has developed a list of five categories that highlight complex organizational

58
and ideological processes that are being negotiated within them. The first category
contrasts political activist groups who are fighting for legal change as opposed to
musical groups, such as the blocos afro who promote cultural projects that strive to
promote a positive black identity. Second, one may differentiate groups who identify
with African cultural and racial lineages from diasporic groups that represent New
World modernity. Third, distinctions can be made between university organizations
that are comprised of (and target) middle-class academic professionals, and education
courses in lower and working class neighborhoods. Fourth, activists are divided on
the issue of direct participation in government bureaucracy. Perhaps the most lucid
example of this type is the appointment of musician and activist Gilberto Gil as the
Brazilian government's Minister of Culture in 2003.54 Fifth, since the late 1980s,
priorities have been focused on black women in response to male-dominated black
movement organizations. The majority of these organizations are comprised of
middle-class urban professional black males, who "want to mobilize the mass of
Afro-Brazilians, but the latter resist being mobilized" (Burdick 1998:138).
Burdick identifies four complex factors that differentiate racial classification
between the United States and Brazil. First, the "social perception of race exists
along a continuum that encourages passing toward whiteness" (Burdick 1998:139)
thus thwarting the unification of a nonwhite identity. Second, a widespread notion
that racism does not exist in Brazil continues to be a prominent social factor. Third,
since there is no clear institutional segregation, as had been established in the United

54

Gil is discussed in chapter two.

59
States, it is difficult "to establish the connections between racial discrimination and
social position" (Hasenbalg in Burdick 1998:139). Finally, fundamental problems
associated with economic survival take precedence over issues of racism. Burdick
concludes that these factors do not entirely explain why black activist movements
have been unable to mobilize large populations, but they do illuminate one dominant
"demobilizing force: the lack of consciousness" (Burdick 1998:139).
Brazil's political climate was one major factor that thwarted formal
organization of black activism. The mid-to-late 1960s represented an era of
repressive military rule throughout Latin America, in which authoritarian regimes in
countries such as Cuba, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Argentina ruled through
the use of force. Moreover, these military regimes "invented their own nightmar[ish]
culture of fear to the point where all opposition became impossible" (Franco
1994:318). Brazil's military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985 was no
exception. This regime attempted to portray an international vision of Brazil through
government sponsorship of public popular song festivals, discussed in chapter two.
In recent years, considerable interdisciplinary attention has been drawn to the
emergence of musical genres, such as the blocos afro, that have challenged notions of
race and racism in public arenas of contemporary Brazil. Perhaps scholars are drawn
to this phenomenon due to these musical groups' ability to efficiently mobilize large
numbers and promote discussion of racial issues in a public forum. These musical
ensembles offer alternatives to the traditional political models, such as the

60
Movimento Negro Unificado (United Black Movement), which have suffered from
divisive internal ideologies and mandates.
It remains to be seen whether further inroads will be made via electoral
politics. Moreover, explicitly racial politics without issue orientation in a
country where race identity is up for grabs, has been, and will be, a dead end
(Hanchard 1994:141).
The election of Workers' Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) to Brazil's
presidency in 2003, suggests that the electoral process may indeed offer opportunities
for social change in Brazil.

The Banian Blocos Afro


Exploration of the blocos afro (Bahian carnival parading associations) in
Salvador, Bahia, demonstrates how political processes have been redirected by AfroBrazilians as a means to create and reclaim symbols from hegemonic forces. A brief
historical review will highlight how dominant forces have shaped these processes,
and in turn, have been re-shaped by subordinate voices.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the bloco afro carnival groups emerged from the
predominantly lower class neighborhoods of Salvador da Bahia in Northeastern
Brazil, promoting positive images of black identity. Based on the model of the Rio
de Janeiro escolas de samba (samba schools), the blocos afro are officially organized
as community "cultural groups," committed to struggles against marginalization and
racial discrimination. Some have become nationally and internationally prominent
voices in Brazil's music industry, such as Olodum, a bloco afro that gained
international popularity in collaborative projects with Paul Simon and Michael

61
Jackson in the late 1980s and early 1990s.55 Organizations such as Olodum have
expanded their scope to become profitable black enterprises providing jobs, shelter,
education and other community-based activities on a year-round basis.
These groups initially faced harsh criticism from the Bahian press. An
excerpt from a 1975 newspaper article demonstrates a vivid reaction to the
appearance of the first bloco afro, lie Aiy6:
The carnival group lie Aiye, nicknamed "Bloco of Racism," gave an ugly
spectacle to this year's carnival. Besides their inappropriate theme and
imitation of North America, revealing an enormous lack of
imagination... [they] went so far as to make fun of the whites and other people
that watched them from the official viewing stand.
Thankfully, we don't have a racial problem. This is one of the great joys of
the Brazilian people. It's clear that the harmony that reigns among the
descendants of various ethnic groups constitutes one of the reasons for the
nonconformity of the agitators who would like to add the spectacle of a racial
war to class struggle. But they will never accomplish this in Brazil (cited in
Crook 1993:97-98).
This account highlights the complex nature of race relations in Brazil, and it
demonstrates how race and class are interconnected and confused. The first
paragraph embeds a high-class viewpoint by denouncing 116 Aiye from the
perspective of the "official viewing stand." By drawing upon Vargas's racial
ideologies, the anonymous author focuses on a "positive" racial and social narrative.
The author is offended that this carnival-parading group from a lower-class
neighborhood had the audacity to mock the elite spectators. By framing this
discussion as a class struggle, the author is enabled to deny the existence of a "racial
ss

Most of Olodum's ideology has been voiced publicly by the group's president, Joao Jorge dos
Santos, who has been interviewed by many academics and journalists. For an overview of Olodum's
ideological position, see www.e-net.com.br/olodum/ingles.html.

62
problem," and posit that various ethnic groups live in harmony. In his opinion, He
Aiye only represents a small group of people who are only interested in causing
trouble. Moreover, this account demonstrates an early 1990s example of Brazilian
resistance to North American cultural hegemony that was pervasive in the 1960s and
1970s. Specific examples of bossa nova, MPB (popular Brazilian music) and the
Bailes da Pesada in relation to anti North American sentiment are discussed in
chapters two and three.
The blocos afro have challenged other aspects of national culture, such as the
Brazilian recording industry, which is principally based in Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paulo. As a means of resisting cultural hegemony from these larger urban areas, the
blocos have helped to establish a regional center in Bahia, by constructing and
recording at studios in Northeastern Brazil. This process has ensured artistic and
financial independence from traditional centers of power in the Brazilian music
industry.
One contemporary theme among scholars is the analysis of globally popular
phenomena that are reinterpreted in local contexts. In the blocos afro, elements have
been borrowed from the Brazilian genres of samba and candombU and more recently
from Jamaican reggae (Crook 1993). By focusing on dance movements of
participants at a bloco afro rehearsal, dance ethnologist Anna Scott (1998) revisits the
impact of North American soul music on contemporary youth culture in AfroBrazilian musical genres. She observes that these movements are borrowed from the
style of the North American James Brown, and they have undergone a transformative

63
process resulting in a transcultural form of expression that presents a Brazilian
identity.

The Berimbau and African-derived Religious Beliefs


There is a strong connection between African-derived religious beliefs,
capoeira, and the berimbau. Capoeira embodies many African-derived religious
practices and concepts, as evidenced in the songs and rituals of the discipline. In the
introductory portion of a game of capoeira, the symbolism of the berimbau can be
seen in both physical and spiritual realms. Many capoeira practitioners believe that
the berimbau is the solitary element that directs the pace and style of each game, and
functions as a referee: the berimbau that is held by the oldest mestre must be obeyed
and respected by all participants. This respect moves to a deeper level when the
berimbau is perceived as a musical instrument that brings spiritual forces of the past
and future together in the present.56
The berimbau is played during funeral ceremonies of some capoeira
practitioners, and its sound is believed to help the spirit move to another realm.
Examples of supernatural beliefs in conjunction with musical bows can be seen in
African and African diasporie cultures. Capoeira mestre Nestor Capoeira cites an
example from oral tradition:
It is said that in certain parts of Africa it was forbidden for the young who
cared for the livestock to play this instrument; it was thought that the sound

56

For this aspect relating to the berimbau, see E Galm (1997); in Kongo Mythology, see Thompson
(1983).

64
would take the soul of the youth - which was still inexperienced - to the land
of no return. (Capoeira 1995:41)
This concept may have broader pan-African implications, as Fernando Ortiz
(in Rego 1968:74-75) notes that Cuban musical bows such as the burumbumba
(similar to the Angolan-styles of musical bows found in Brazil) are believed to be
instruments that "speak with the dead." Ortiz gives the etymology of the term
burumbumba as coming from "bum" (to "speak" or "converse") and "mumbumba,"
related to nganga (cauldron which contains spiritual powersused in the Afro Cuban
religious practice of Palo Monte), which captivates the familiar spirit and keeps it
near.57
Moreover, some capoeira practitioners believe that through the process of
paying proper respect to the berimbau--by kneeling at the foot of the berimbau
musician(s) before entering into a gamethey will attain a corpo fechado (closed
body) so they will not be susceptible to cuts or injuries (E Silva 1997-int). Carneiro
(1981:213) notes that at this moment, a ladainha (litany--an introductory solo) is
being sung by the mestre, and the participants are esperando o santo (waiting for the
saint). This concept is borrowed from candomble practice when an initiate is
preparing for spirit possession. Mestre Negativo58 suggests that many of the spiritual
belief practices associated with the berimbau have emerged from other forms of

37

Ortiz (in Rego 1968:74-75) cites a song accompanied by the burumbumba, directed towards the
"mbumba:" Bum mbumba, mamdl Bum mbumbal Bum mhumba, niamdl Bum mbumba, <f." He notes
that there are three voice ranges that correspond with each word: "Bum" is sung in a low register,
"mbumba" is sung in a medium register, and "mamd" is the in the highest register.
58
Mestre Negativo is a co-founder of the music ensemble Berimbrown (discussed in chapter three).

65
African-derived religious systems, such as umbanda (syncretism of Afro-Brazilian
religious practice and Catholicism) and candomble.
After slavery was abolished, [Afro-Brazilians] didn't have anything to do.
They ran away to the morros [hills], they created the favelas [impoverished
urban neighborhoods], and the religion that they had was African religion,
which is candomble. And capoeira was [one of their] manifestationsit was
their art, their manner to defend, to rob, to attack, to celebrate, to train, so it
mixed all of this through the African cults, like candomble. [Capoeira also]
had chants, percussive instruments and handclapping. So the connection is
very strong. (Negativo2001-int)
Reis (2000) suggests that both the game of capoeira and the berimbau exist in
an ambiguous space that encompasses the sacred and profane. The capoeira circle
simultaneously represents "the world" and "a different world," where practitioners
must receive permission to enter and exit at the foot of the berimbau. Moreover, the
berimbau is simultaneously a "musical instrument and a spiritual authority" whose
melodic rhythms feature names of Catholic saints, other people, and regions of Africa
and Brazil (Reis 2000:172). Reis also conducted an interview with Seu Tomas, a
berimbau artisan based in Sao Paulo, who related that the colors of his painted
berimbaus possessed fundamental relationships with some divinities within the AfroBrazilian religious practices of umbanda and candomble?9 He noted that the blue
berimbau represented Yemanjd (the goddess of the sea), and two other berimbaus
represented Oxumare (orixd of the rainbow) and the Preto Velho (Old Black Spirit.)
(S. Tomas in Reis 2000:172).m

59

Oxumare's colors are green, yellow, blue, pink and white, or the principal colors of the rainbow;
Yemanj&'s colors are blue and white; and the Preto Velho's color is white (Cacciatore 1988).
o -j^g p r e t 0 ( s ) Velho(s) represent the purified spirits of ancient enslaved Africans in Brazil within the
religious practice of umbanda, "They are the example of humility, simple knowledge, kindness and

66
The concept of a metaphysical berimbau can be found in legends and stories.
For instance, De Oliveira (1958) recounts a legend about a girl who fell by the side of
a stream, died, and upon her death, various parts of her body transformed into
components of a berimbau (1958:7).61 Mestre No made similar associations, by
comparing the wood of the bow to his skeleton, the resonating gourd to his head, the
wire to his hair, and the rattle as the same one that he played with as a baby (N6 in
Lewis 1992:142-143). Lewis also suggests a connection between the components of
the berimbau and corresponding deities as practiced in umhanda, although this
particular scheme was not related to him directly by capoeira practitioners. Edison
Carneiro (1981) discusses the use of the berimbau in the musical ensembles of
various Afro-Brazilian religious manifestations, and D'Anunciacao (2001-int:13 Jun)
notes that the berimbau is often utilized in the pajelanga (religious curing rituals) in
the state of Maranhao.62
Three recent examples demonstrate how symbolic associations of the
berimbau are being utilized as a means to incorporate elements of Afro-Brazilian
culture into Banian Catholic and evangelical religious services. This was likely
inspired in part by revisionist concepts emerging from Brazil's 500* anniversary
celebration of the arrival of Portuguese colonists held in the year 2000.63 The
Archbishop of Salvador, Dom Lucas Moreira, announced in 1997 that an Afro-

forgiveness.. .They do not represent orixds, but some are connected along these lines"
(Cacciatorel 988:215).
61
This story has been published in English in E Galm (1997) and Lewis (1992),
62
He also notes that the musical instrumentation of these rituals is very flexible.
63
As a part of this process, a nationally sponsored museum exhibition was eventually titled the
"rediscovery" (as opposed to the "discovery") of Brazil.

67
Brazilian Pastoral would be composed for the commemorative event, with the aim of
introducing Afro-Brazilian cultural traits into the Catholic Mass. He states, "The
berimbau and other Afro-Brazilian cultural instruments can be incorporated into a
diocese that embodies this type of influence, such as in Bahia" (Moreira in
Anonymous 1997). In the year 2000, during the commemorative celebration, an
individual Catholic church held a mass to ask forgiveness for its association with
colonial Brazilian oppression. The African component of this mass included a
berimbau, which was played in the church as a part of the service (Gondim 1997).
During the March 2001 inauguration of the evangelical sanctuary of Mae Rainha e
Vencedora (Victorious Queen Mother), a group of adolescents brought altar offerings
of berimbaus, Bahian fruits, and flowers, which complemented the traditional
offering of bread and wine (S Nascimento 2001).

The Berimbau, Capoeira and Gender


Capoeira has been and continues to be a male-dominated sphere. Prominent
women capoeiristas have occasionally been mentioned in capoeira literature (Almeida
1986, Bola Sete 1997, Capoeira 1999, Lewis 1992), but they have been unique
exceptions, often viewed as "tough women" who were not considered "capoeiristas"
(Lewis 1992:228). It is widely believed that mestre Bimba trained his daughters how
to play capoeira, and there is photographic evidence from "approximately the
1930s.. .that shows various black women training capoeira in a yard, under the
command of mestre Bimba" (Capoeira 1999:183-184). As of the early 1990s,

68
informal estimates suggested that less than one percent of women played capoeira in
Salvador, and possibly five to ten percent participated in Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paulo academies. Lewis (1992:73) observed that women generally participate at
dance studios and academies, as "capoeira is generally considered more socially
acceptable by middle- and upper-middle-class people." North American women
trained with Bira Almeida's capoeira group in California and won formal
competitions against Brazilian women capoeiristas (Almeida 1986:60).64 I do not
know if women are the heads of Brazilian capoeira academies in Brazil. Lewis
reports that he never encountered a female maestra during his fieldwork. Capoeira
maestra Edna Lima has established a successful academy outside of Brazil's borders,
in New York City.
Gender-based insults are frequently used in capoeira songs to challenge the
masculinity of male participants. Lewis believes that this follows patterns of
machismo found throughout Latin America and the United States. Women are often
cited as promiscuous in capoeira song texts, which suggests one of the reasons why
the sport has encountered limited female participation. In general, references to
women are designed as insults to challenge male masculinity and they are used as an
incentive for more aggressive play. For example, the common phrase quern bate
palmas e uma mulhe ("who claps their hands is a woman") implies that if someone
only provides the musical accompaniment, they always remain at the periphery and
are afraid to enter into combat. These types of challenges extend to equating women

Almeida is one of the first capoeira masters who opened an academy in the United States.

69
with children, thus suggesting that inexperienced practitioners do not possess the
physical or emotional capabilities to survive within the ring. As capoeira masters are
attempting to attract more students, they are faced with changing potentially offensive
song texts and stereotypical attitudes. Lewis (1992:175) comments that "this
conscious change in image is one of the factors influencing the creation of new songs
in the capoeira repertoire."65
Capoeira practitioner and musician Dinho Nascimento observed the practice
of capoeira on the streets of Salvador, Bahia during his youth, and recalls that he had
heard about a few women involved with capoeira in the 1930s. He occasionally saw
women informally playing capoeira on the beach in the 1950s, and many women
began to play capoeira by the 1970s. Nascimento is aware of the changing attitudes
about women's participation in capoeira, observing that today, "there are women
playing berimbau. And the masters are accepting it. This is a great evolution in
capoeira" (D Nascimento 2001-int).
Nascimento recalls that capoeira masters carefully guarded the berimbau from
all inexperienced students regardless of gender, so access to the berimbau within
capoeira was limited for all lower-level students. He recalls that
a student couldn't pick up the berimbau, because the berimbau wasn't for a
kid. It was a special instrument that principally the mestre picked
up.. .[because he] had to know how to play a good berimbau to be a good
capoeirista... And today, this has changed in the contrary. The mestres want
to have students playing berimbau, and the more students playing the
berimbau, the better. (D Nascimento 2001-int)

65

Lewis docs not state whether this is in Brazil, the United States, or both.

70
Although there has been increased participation of women in capoeira, I have
not encountered many women percussionists who play berimbau in popular music
contexts. Nascimento commented that he could not think of a single female berimbau
musician who played in a band. He did refer to an upcoming experimental musical
collaboration that would involve women berimbau musicians, but he was not sure
how it was going to work since they were not formally trained musicians (D
Nascimento 2001-int).
New all-women musical ensembles have been appearing in recent years, such
as the Filhas d' Oxum (Daughters of Oxum), which is perceived by the public to be an
ancillary group to Filhos de Ghandy (Sons of Ghandy [sic]), a Bahian carnival Afoxi
association (Afro-Brazilian carnival parading group that is referred to as an ambulant
secularized version of candombli), although it is a separate entity (see Davies 1999).
As a marketing tool, some all-women musical ensembles have been created in recent
years to ride the wave of Bahian-influenced popular music. Carlinhos Brown's
drumming ensemble, Timbalada, includes a few women singers, but men primarily
play the drums. As a commercial response to this phenomenon, the group As
Meninas (The Girls) featuring women singing and playing drums was created, and
they reached national prominence in 2000 and 2001.

The Berimbau as a National Symbol


As an extension of its associations with capoeira, the berimbau has come to
represent "Afro-Brazilianness" in recent decades, expressed through academy logos,

71
jewelry and tattoos (Almeida 1986). Walls of capoeira academies become sacred
altars that prominently display berimbaus and photographs of "ancestors" (capoeira
masters) most of whom are playing or holding a berimbau. One logo shows the
berimbau incorporated into the Brazilian national flag, reinforcing the Brazilianness
of the berimbau and capoeira within both a national and international context. This
becomes an international symbol for Brazilian capoeira groups based outside of
Brazil, and for non-Brazilian capoeiristas who use both the berimbau and the
Brazilian national flag as markers of a distinctive brotherhood with Brazilian roots
(see fig 6).

RaizestioBrasil
*a

Figure 6: Capoeira Logo Utilizing the Berimbau (Internet Website)6*

In Brazilian popular music, the berimbau has also become a symbol of


capoeira to non-capoeiristas, where it has been appropriated as an icon of authentic
Brazilian folkloric music with illustrations of berimbaus on record covers.67 A recent
chain of record stores entitled "Berimbau Music," extends this concept to general

66

littp^/www.jirrowbrffe^e.fiomMises/mdex.httril Accessed 17 April 2003,


Viva A Bahia, No. 3 (Anonymous 1970-disc) is a folkloric recording of rural sambas, patron saint
festival music, and marchas. The berimbau does not appear in any of the tracks on this recording.
67

72

popular music audiences, perhaps in an attempt to capture the public's attention, and
draw them inside the store.
The berimbau is also a Brazilian tourist symbol seen on numerous store signs,
company logos and t-shirts.68 In 1994, Bahian sculptor Bel Borba was commissioned
by the Bahian telephone company to create public telephone booths that resembled
berimbaus (see fig 7). These phone booths are found throughout Salvador, and

Figure 7: Berimbau Phone Booth in Bahia (M Vianna n,d.)


68

Although the berimbau is principally associated with Bahia, berimbaus are sold at tourist markets in
other urban areas such as Rio de Janeiro and SIo Paulo,

73

similar phone booths have been sculpted in Recife, Pernambuco in the shape of green
coconuts and somhrinhas (small umbrellas) used in the Pemambucan Frevo dance.
Salvador's newspaper A Tarde featured a full-page exhibition of four
berimbau-related articles, which resembled an in-depth promotional travel
advertisement. One article boldly proclaimed: "Berimbau: tourist symbol of Bahia"
(Machado 1993a: 15), and another reinforced its exoticized appeal as a "grand
attraction at the Mercado Modelo" (Machado 1993b), Salvador's main tourist
marketplace, which was the world's largest slave market in the eighteenth century.
Italian artist Antonio Ferrigno who captured many aspects of Brazilian
landscapes in his portraits of Afro-Brazilian culture, painted a striking image of the
berimbau in the early 1900s. One of his most famous collections is an extensive
series portraying the coffee production process on a plantation in the state of Sao
Paulo. In an untitled painting (see fig 8), a berimbau musician is playing at what was
once the door of a church now in ruins. A young boy is gazing at the altar, a statue of
the Virgin Mary. Many interpretations can be derived from this image, including
dichotomies between African and European religious beliefs (Catholicism and
candomble), and the contrast between young and old.
In this picture, the berimbau is being played at the door of the church, whereas
in many capoeira songs, a frequent request is for a berimbau to play at the door of the
cemetery. Since this church is in ruins, it is plausible that this represents the remains
of a mausoleum. The contrast between the old man and the young boy could
represent the old man reflecting upon his life as a youth, or perhaps the young boy,

74
'a

Figure 8: Berimbau Musician Outside of Church (Ferrigno 2000:383)

seeing the church (i.e. immediate neighborhood, or life in general) in ruins, finds
solace through fixation on the untarnished Virgin. The image of the Virgin Mary in
an Afro-Brazilian setting could also symbolize a connection to the orixd Yemanjd (the

75
goddess of the sea), who is often believed to be associated with this Catholic image.69
Yemanjd is a popular orixd in the Americas, since her spirit was responsible for
overseeing the journey of the Africans who survived the treacherous middle passage.
Another aspect that this scene brings to mind is the notion of musical
transmission. Although the young boy's attention appears to be directed towards the
altar of the church, his proximity to the musician suggests that he is simultaneously
internalizing the performance of the musician. Berimbau musicians have described
the process in which they learned how to play the berimbau as one that featured
informal observation in public and later imitation of these movements in private (D
Ferreira 1997-int 24 Feb, Negativo 2001-int).
In terms of performance technique, it is difficult to discern whether the
berimbau musician is using a stone/coin or a pinching technique to modify the pitch.
It is most likely a pinching technique, similar to the Angolan musical bow technique
previously discussed. The berimbau musician is also holding the stick in a manner
that contrasts with the performance technique described earlier in this chapter, and the
musician does not appear to be holding a caxixi (basket rattle).
A large sculpture of a berimbau musician is currently located in the lobby of
the Hotel Nacional in Brasilia. Banian artist Mario Cravo, Jr. created this work,
"Tocador de Berimbau," in 1950 (see fig 9). Constructed of wood with veneer, and
measuring three meters high (Cravo 2003-int), this work evokes provocative images
of berimbau, capoeira and internal exploration. Rego (1968:328) called this sculpture

69

For example, each is often represented by the primary colors blue and white (Cacciatore 1988).

76
"an erotic interpretation" of its subject matter. A more recent newspaper article
reports that this sculpture "made a great impact when it was exhibited in the 1950s at
Belvedere da Se" (Machado 1993c: 15).

.'" ', . t,
1

.':.

<.

' *
*
*

..

, i

'

**

**************

*'*

t,*

Figure 9: Tocador de Berimbau by Cravo, Jr., 1950 (Photo by Eric A. Galm 2001)

"Tocador de Berimbau" features a berimbau musician who is personally


intertwined in an exaggerated manner. The musician's mouth is open, perhaps

77

singing or shouting encouragement in a game of capoeira. Another interpretation


suggests that the berimbau player has become wrapped-up in the joyous melodic
rhythmic variations. Perhaps this is an external portrayal of the musician's internal
emotional response to the music.
Other visual images that have appeared recently include a variety of cartoons.
Two political cartoons featuring the berimbau were recently published in the Jornal
do Brasil, by the cartoonist, Ique. Both of these cartoons represent a political scandal
that led to the temporary downfall of Antonio Carlos Magalhaes, a senior senator
from Bahia, who had controlled the senate for many years through intimidation of
political adversaries. In 2001, Magalhaes was connected with illegally obtained
computer files that led to the expulsion of another Brazilian senator. The first cartoon
(see fig 10) depicts a jogo (game) of capoeira, in which Magalhaes (in the upper lefthand corner) is attempting to avoid a rasteira (sweeping movement with a leg),
administered by one of his political adversaries, Jader Barbalho. President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso is playing the berimbau. The person in the front, wearing shorts
that depict a "bad boy" face (suggesting that he is carrying-out another person's
"dirty work"), is Jose Roberto Arruda, a senator that was forced to resign, after he
obtained senate voting records on Magalhaes's behalf. (Araujo 2004-int).
In the second cartoon (see fig 11), Magalhaes was forced to step down as head
of the Brazilian Senate, and eventually resign from his duties as an elected official.
This example shows Magalhaes and a berimbau thrown-out with the trash on the
70

Magalhaes was re-elected to the Brazilian senate in 2003, For a summary of this scandal in English,
see "Goodbye to Mean Tony" at http://www.brazzil.com/rpdjun01.htm.

78

steps of the Brazilian capitol. The use of the berimbau in this instance demonstrates
the pervasiveness of the national perception of the berimbau's symbolic association
with Bahia.

IQUE

Figure 10: Political Cartoon Depicting Bahian Senator's Scandal (Ique 2001a:8)

IQUE

Figure 11: Political Cartoon Depicting Bahian Senator's Scandal (Ique 2001b:10)

79
Spiritual associations in relation to the berimbau can be seen in a children's
book, Berimbau by Raquel Coelho (2000) (see fig 12). This story is about a young
boy who was walking in the woods and came across some ruins, where he
encountered an Afro-Brazilian man with a berimbau. The man began to play, and the
boy (who was named Leo) opened his eyes so wide it seemed as if he was listening
through them. When the man stopped playing, he told Leo that the upper part of the
bow pointed towards the sky. Leo looked up and saw himself growing into a man,

'<", I

K1

Figure 12: Illustration from Children's Story (Coelho 2000:13)

and saw his sons, his grandchildren, and the future. The lower part of the bow
pointed towards the ground, and Leo eventually saw all of his ancestors, including his
grandmother, great-grandmother, and the past. When the image disappeared, the man

80

handed the berimbau to Leo and said, "the upper part is the future, the lower part is
the past, and in the middle, there's a young boy, who is a little distracted and full of
stories in his head...and that little boy is you.... The berimbau is my present to you.
Every time you play it, remember me and these things I have told you" (Adapted
from Coelho 2000). These themes echo similar concepts discussed by some capoeira
masters who believe that the berimbau possesses the ability to bring positive energy
from the spirits high above, and the ancestors below, together in the present.
The berimbau was also incorporated into the short-lived "Luana" comic book
character, created by Bahian Aroido Macedo (2000) in an attempt to create the first

Figure 13: Luana and Her Magic Berimbau (A Macfido 2000:34)

Afro-Brazilian heroine in this format (see fig 13). Luana possessed a berimbau
rndgico (magic berimbau), which enabled her to travel through time, and combat

81
forces that threatened ecological and environmental issues. This comic venture only
lasted for three months.
Images of the berimbau have also appeared in Brazilian poetry, which
provides yet another manner in which to view the impact and meaning of the musical
bow in Brazilian literature. The poem "Urucungo" (another name for the berimbau)
by Raul Bopp, demonstrates romanticized laments of Afro-Brazilian souls (see fig
14).
Pesa em teu sangue a voz de
ignoradas origens
As florestas guardaram na sombra
o segredo da tua historia.
A tua primeira inscrigdo em baixo-relevo
foi uma chicotada no lombo.
Um dia atiraram-te no
bojo de um navio negreiro
E durante noites longas e
longas vieste ouvindo
O barulho do mar
Como um solugo dentro
do pordo soturno.
O mar era um irmdo da tua raga.
Um dia, de madrugada, uma nesga
de praia e um porto,
Armazens com depdsitos de escravos
E o gemido dos teus irmdos
amarrados numa coleira
Deferro.
Principiou ai a tua historia.
O resto, o Congo longinquo, as
palmeiras e o mar,
Ficou se queixando no bojo
do urucungo.

It weighs in your blood the voice


of unknown origins
The forests kept in the shade the
secret of your history
Your first inscription in bas-relief
was a lash on your back.
One day they threw you into the
hold of a slave ship
And during long and long nights
you came listening to
The noise of the sea
Like a sobbing within
the gloomy hold.
The sea was a brother of your
race.
One day, at dawn, a strip of sand
and a port,
Warehouses with rooms filled
with slaves
And the wailing of your brothers
bound by a collar
of Iron.
That was the beginning of your
history.
The rest, the distant Congo,
the palm trees and the sea,
Remains lamenting in the gourd
of the urucungo [musical bow].

Figure 14: "Urucungo" (Bopp n.d. in Carneiro 1981:23-24)

82

In this context, the musical bow serves both as a repository of history as well as a
conduit through which these stories are recounted. Moreover, essences of pain and
suffering, longings for a distant homeland and undocumented stories are all contained
and retold through the musical bow's gourd.
A final example of the berimbau in Brazilian culture comes from a short
animated film, entitled A Lenda da Arvore Sagrada (The Legend of the Sacred Tree),
by Eladio Garcia Teles (1999-vid).71 This film relates the story of a mysterious
African tree, which, when brought to Brazil, began to recall its life in Africa, and was
then transformed into a berimbau. Once again, as has been demonstrated in the work
by Raquel Coelho (2000) and my own ethnographic information (Negativo 2001-int,
Grande 1997-int), the berimbau is believed to bring the past and the future together in
the present.

Conclusion
During the twentieth century, the berimbau has emerged to become a symbol
of national Brazilian identity that traverses vast social and cultural boundaries. Since
both the berimbau and capoeira were distinct traditions that developed independently,
their union represents a successful transformative process that ensured each other's
survival. The berimbau's basic function has changed from an instrument of leisure in
colonial Brazilian marketplaces to a prominent position within the ritual of capoeira,
which is perhaps one reason why it has been able to survive, while other African71

This video is in the archive at the Biblioteca Amadeu Aniaral at the Museu do Foldore in Rio dc
Janeiro.

83
derived musical instruments such as the marimba have disappeared from use in
Brazil.
Race and class have been and continue to be extremely complicated issues in
Brazilian society. A discussion of these issues as they relate to musical genres
presented in this dissertation appears in chapter three. The berimbau has served as a
point of identity among black Brazilians since Brazil's colonial era, and it continues
to represent black music cultures to this day. Racial barriers are closely intertwined
with class in Brazilian society, and in the following chapters, additional examples will
appear in relation to the berimbau's multi-faceted associations with Afro-Brazilian
music and culture.
The brief survey of visual and literary references in this chapter highlights
how the berimbau has influenced a broad range of cultural expression in diverse
social contexts. Evidence of the berimbau's success as a prominent icon utilized for
the construction of a national ideology can be seen in a variety of art forms, poetry
and political commentary, including fine art sculptures, paintings, political and
children's cartoons, t-shirts, CD covers and public telephone booths. If the concept of
a berimbau functioning as an active agent bringing spiritual realms together is
extended to national identity, the berimbau can then become a symbolic tool that
helps to bring diverse geographical regions together as a means to unify an expansive
developing nation.
Chapter two will pursue how the berimbau was used in Brazilian popular
music beginning in the early 1960s as a means to integrate Brazilian cultural elements

84
into national popular music contexts, including bossa nova, MPB (Brazilian Popular
Music) and the recent genre of samba reggae. The pursuit of negotiating boundaries
of brasilidade (Brazilian identity) within these musical genres is framed within public
song festivals, a medium that became a vibrant contested space for the definition of a
national musical identity.

85

Chapter Two
The Berimbau in Bossa Nova and Popular Music Festivals

There are two distinct periods in which composers of Brazilian popular music
began to search for a national voice beyond the genre of samba. This first phase took
place with the rise of bossa nova music in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when
composers began incorporating elements of Brazilian folklore into their jazzinfluenced works, The second phase can be seen in public popular song festivals that
were initially sponsored by the military dictatorship as a means to promote tourism
from October 1966 until the early 1970s, when strict censorship limited artistic
expression. Beginning with the Festival Internacional da Cancao (FIC) (International
Song Festival), popular music festivals expanded the notion of MPB (popular
Brazilian music) beyond the context of bossa nova. Works at these festivals often
featured contemporary fusions of musical styles from disparate sources.
The first song discussed in this chapter, "Berimbau," composed by Baden
Powell and Vinicius de Moraes, is an example of the first phase described above.
One of the hallmarks of this song is Powell's adaptation of the berimbau's melodic
rhythms to the guitar. This work served to nationally popularize the musical bow
beyond the folkloric context of capoeira and propel it into the Brazilian musical
mainstream. This guitar motif has since become an iconic trope that symbolizes the

86
berimbau, capoeira, Bahia, and Northeastern music in many genres of popular
Brazilian music.
The three other songs discussed in this chapter were introduced into Brazilian
music culture through the medium of public song festivals: "Lapinha," "Domingo no
Parque," and "Berimbau." The first two songs competed at song festivals in the late
1960s, and are thus representative of the second phase described above. The final
musical example was presented at a smaller festival in the early 1990s, and
demonstrates the important space that popular music festivals continue to occupy in
certain areas of Brazilian society.
"Lapinha" (Various Artists 1968-disc), by Baden Powell with lyricist Paulo
Cesar Pinheiro, raises questions about authorship and the use of traditional material in
popular music contexts.72 Gilberto Gil's "Domingo no Parque" (Sunday in the Park)
(Gil 1968-disc) drew upon the berimbau's status as a publicly legitimized national
folkloric instrument. This local status enabled Gil to incorporate non-Brazilian
musical elements and instruments into his composition--an aspect that was vigorously
contested by audience members. The final song discussed in this chapter, also called
"Berimbau" (Olodum 1992-disc), is performed by Olodum, a socially progressive
Bahian carnival parading organization that recognizes the success of the song festival
format as a means to keep in touch with changing trends and interests.

72

Although "Lapinha" was composed after "Domingo no Parque," I discuss "Lapinha" first, in order
to continue with the discussion of Baden Powell.

87

Bossa Nova and a Modernizing Brazil


Bossa nova composers actively explored elements of Brazilian folklore for use
in their North American jazz-influenced compositions. Music critics and cultural
nationalists such as Jose Ramos Tinhorao (1966) launched scathing attacks on hossa
nova composers as musicians who did not properly know how to feel the subtleties
and swing of Afro-Brazilian rhythmic syncopation. As a result, he suggested that
these composers could not be true carriers of Brazilian national musical traditions. In
an extreme example, he portrayed bossa nova composers as culturally bastardized
children from Rio de Janeiro's wealthy southern beach neighborhoods that were
influenced by North American music and culture. Since these composers did not
know their own roots, he believed that bossa nova betrayed its Brazilian musical
traditions (Tinhorao in Rego 1968:329).
Issues and debates surrounding bossa nova and cultural authenticity mirrored
Brazil's struggles as a post-colonial nation.73 The government of president Juscelino
Kubitschek (1956-60) undertook an ambitious modernization policy, in which the
goal was to achieve "fifty years' progress in five" (Skidmore 1986:164). As a means
to draw the overpopulated coastal populations towards the center of the country,
Kubitschek's largest project included the design and construction of a new capital
called Brasilia, an architecturally planned new Federal District located in the state of
Goi^s in Brazil's heartland. As a result of this rapid industrialization, financed in

73

I use the term post-colonial to represent Brazil's efforts to define itself as a nation. Brazil first
declared its independence from Portugal in 1822, and was under the rule of a monarchy until 1889,
when Brazil proclaimed itself a republic (Skidmore 1999).

88
large part with foreign loans and investment, Brazil's inflation rate increased
dramatically (Skidmore 1986). In order to entice foreign investment, Kubitschek
encouraged the importation of foreign products, which began to affect trade
imbalances, and highlight inequities between Brazil and industrialized countries.
Brazil imported finished products, such as industrial machinery and consumer items,
and exported raw materials, including agricultural and mineral resources.
Bossa nova musicians were interested in creating a new style of music that
represented the synthesis of a modernizing society. The intent of this new style was
to distance itself from the singing traditions established by the samba recording artists
earlier in the twentieth century. The samba singers modeled their vocal production
after the Italian bel canto singing style, which featured a loud volume and a wide
vibrato. In contrast, the bossa nova singing style presented a softly delivered melody
with little or no vibrato. Moreover, bossa nova musicians were not interested in
creating authentic reproductions of samba music, as North American jazz musicians
including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Stan Getz and Miles Davis, among others,
had also influenced them. As a result, bossa nova became a product that was
representative of this emerging modern Brazilian national culture.74
In 1964, a repressive military government took power in a coup, and ruled
until 1985. The regime implemented economic reforms that led to a six-year boom

74

A branch of the conservative Unido Democrdta National political party was known as the "Bossa
Nova" faction that supported Goulart's ambitious land reform find economic stabilization projects
(Skidmore 1988:252). The opposing faction to this group had subsequently been branded a banda de
mtisica [the music group] because its members had the habit of sitting on the front rows in the
Chamber of Deputies (near the musicians if it had been a dance floor) and opening sessions with
aggressive attacks on their enemies" (Skidmore 1988:390),

89
with annual growth averaging greater than ten percent, which was dubbed Brazil's
"economic miracle" (Skidmore 1999:177). Through consolidation of various
communications and cultural entities, the government established EMBRATEL (the
Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicacoes [National Telecommunications Company]),
EMBRATUR (Empresa Brasileira de Turismo [National Tourism Company]), and the
Campanha de Defesa do Folclore Brasileiro (Campaign in Defense of Brazilian
Folklore), all in the mid 1960s, which enabled military leaders to assert their
influence beyond public view.
In the mid 1960s, the rise of television and the continued presence of radio
ensured that popular music would become the most accessible cultural vehicle for
reaching Brazil's masses. This is one of the primary reasons why Brazilian popular
music drew heavy attention from governmental censors. While bossa nova
represented a sophisticated modern music, popular protest songs began to emerge in
the mid-1960s that projected a lower working class musical resistance by drawing on
regional musical traditions, such as samba, the samba de roda, and the berimbau,
which musically represented capoeira's origins of resistance from slavery. The
incorporation of these "raw" musical traditions into this newer musical framework
was designed to restore a "national-popular authenticity to the song of political
protest, against the imported, 'Americanized' culture which bossa nova and
increasingly rock, were held to represent" (Treece 1997:4). Moreover, popular artists
such as Chico Buarque composed songs that featured ambiguous lyrics employing

90
double entendres that were often approved by governmental censors for public
airplay.

Brazilian Popular Music Festivals


Beginning on Sao Paulo television stations in 1964, popular music festivals
became nationally broadcasted events that re-defined boundaries of Brazilian music
and culture. In 1966, the first Festival International de Cangao (FIC) (International
Song Festival), held in Rio de Janeiro, was designed to internationally promote
Brazilian music and Rio as the "world capital of popular music" (Stroud 2000:88).
These festivals soon became a cultural competition between Rio and Sao Paulo, The
military regime that took power in 1964 viewed the FIC as a popular music festival
that could promote Brazil's potential to export popular music as a refined export
commodity. Moreover, the festival was used by the military regime as a means to
portray Brazil as a politically stable tropical paradise.
The Brazilian song festival format structure was modeled on the Italian San
Remo song festival. The FIC was divided into two categories (International and
National), as a means to draw established international singers. A call to songwriters
was published in the press inviting them to submit and perform, or arrange for a third
party to perform unpublished compositions at the event. For the national component
of the competition, a selection committee processed the submitted entries and a pool
of thirty-six semi-finalists was established. Audiences paid to attend a two-day
presentation of the semi-final phase, which was judged by a panel of musicologists

91
and journalists. Prizes for the winning composition at the first festival totaled 11
million cruzeiros (US$4,957) for the songwriter and 5 million cruzeiros (US$2,253)
for the singer.75 Additional prizes were awarded for the best musical arrangement and
best interpretation (Stroud 2000:88). As the festivals progressed, audience reaction
evolved into an integral participatory event. Public reaction was often most
pronounced when popular opinion contradicted the official results, leading the III
Festival de MPB to become frequently referred to in the press as the "festivaia"
(Festival of boos) (Stroud 2000:89). Since the official space of the song festivals was
sponsored by the military regime, public responses to official results extended beyond
the festival's judges and served as a means to indirectly communicate dissatisfaction
with the government.
According to Renato Ortiz (in Stroud 2000:92), popular culture was initially
defined in the 1920s and 1930s as a traditional expression that evolved from folkloric
roots of "the people." "Popular" was then re-defined in the mid 1950s (after the fall
of the Vargas regime) to generate broad-based support that could then be transformed
into political action. Following the 1964 military coup, this term was de-politicized
and reduced to simply distinguish something that was able to reach a mass audience.
Also at this time, the concept of national was being re-defined to reflect cultural
processes that were influenced by a rising consumer society and the governmentsupported national television network, TV Globo. This formula was successful until

7S

This amount has been calculated at an average 1966 exchange rate of CR$2,218.90 to 1 US dollar
(Officer 2002). The average monthly Brazilian minimum wage in 1966 was CR$43,792 (US$19.74)
(Mitchell 1993), which demonstrates the true purchasing power of the festival prize money.

92
1968, when the government heavily censored participating entries at the festival.
Abuses of the censorship resulted in many artists being exiled from Brazil.
As governmental censorship eased in the 1980s, the re-democratization
process of Brazilian society provided new opportunities for cultural expression. The
Bahian blocos afro provided a strong catalyst for giving a public voice to the street
carnival. The bloco afro Olodum became one of many voices on the streets of
Salvador that challenged notions of race and racism in Brazilian society. They
instituted an annual music competition that was designed to enhance their arsenal of
potential carnival themes, as well as provide commercial recognition to the winning
composers of each year's competition. These festivals have assisted the group in
their efforts to draw upon a pan-African concept of nationalism that had not been
incorporated as a component of Brazil's nation-building ideology.

Baden Powell
Baden Powell de Aquino was born in 1937, the son of Lilo de Aquino. His
father was the director of the Brazilian Boy Scouts (Escoteiros de Varre-Sai), and
Baden was named after Lord Robert Baden Powell, an Englishman who originally
founded the Boy Scouts.76 Powell learned music from his father, a classically trained
violinist. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, and his father's house was often a meeting

76

During a 1992 visit to the Anokyekrom museum in Kumasi, Ghana, ethnomusicologist John Galm
viewed an exhibit about the history of the Ashanti people and their defeat of the British expeditionary
force, which was led by Lord Robert Baden Powell. Powell was impressed by the manner in which
Ashanti raised their young, so he modeled the Boy Scouts after Ashanti boys training rituals (Jf Galm
2003-int).

93
place for choro musicians including the legendary artists Donga and Pixinguinha.
Choro is an urban instrumental musical genre developed in Rio de Janeiro in the late
nineteenth century. At thirteen years of age, Powell worked at the Rddio National as
an accompanist to various artists, and was a regular participant at informal samba de
roda celebrations on the hill of Mangueira, the location of Rio's oldest and most
famous samba school. Although Powell became a prominent bossa nova composer
whose compositions are now part of the standard repertoire, he achieved moderate
success in Brazil and gained broader international recognition in Europe where he
lived for many years. His most successful collaborations were with Vinfcius de
Moraes, beginning in the early 1960s, and with Paulo Cesar Pinheiro in the late
1960s. As an instrumentalist, his performance style combines aspects from many
traditions. Music critic Tarik de Souza described Powell as a musician who
"combined the energy of a flamenco guitarist, who possessed the technical aptitude of
a choro musician, and who had the rhythmic feel of someone who attended a lot of
samba de roda celebrations" (T Souza 2000). His compositions featured similar
attributes in that they were "able to unite tradition [i.e. early samba music] with bossa
nova modernism," without becoming stereotypical formulaic representations (T
Souza 2000).

Afro Sambas and "Berimbau"


Between 1962 and 1966, Powell and de Moraes jointly composed a series of
songs called Afro Sambas, most of which were released in a 1966 recording entitled

94
Os Afro Sambas. Speaking about the inspiration for the Afro Sambas, Powell
commented that "Afro is all of Brazil. It's within the people" (Powell in Sanches
1999:4). Thematic material was derived from Afro-Brazilian cultural and religious
practices and made use of descriptive titles such as "Samba da Bencao" (Blessing
Samba),71 "Canto pra Ossanha" (Song for Ossanha, an orixd of medicine within
candomble), and "Berimbau." The composition of "Berimbau" was a decisive point
in the
history of popular Brazilian music, [regarding] the adoption of the beat and
song of capoeira. "Berimbau" was and continues to be a success, recorded
and re-recorded by famous interpreters and this was the stimulus for new
compositions within this theme. (Rego 1968:334)
Powell describes the Afro sambas as a type of samba, like the samba lento
(slow samba), samba cangao (song samba), samba carnaval, samba choro, and the
samba lamento (lamenting samba). Although Powell considers the Afro sambas to be
most closely aligned with the samba lamento, he believes that his compositions were
"stigmatized" with the descriptive label "Afro sambas" imposed by the media, which
in his opinion, did not constitute an entirely new musical genre (Powell in Sanches
1999:4).
Powell drew upon three distinct sources for these works: compositional
studies in Rio de Janeiro; travel to Bahia; and an increased interest in Afro-Brazilian
music and culture. Vinicius de Moraes believes that Powell increased the Afro
element in the Afro samba compositions by drawing from the rhythmic roots of
popular Brazilian music. This effectively provided a regional Rio de Janeiro
In this instance, "Bengaa" refers to a capoeira movement.

95
influence to national forms of Afro-Brazilian musical expression, although it was
partially based in Bahia because he turned his compositional antennas "to recent
Bahia and to ancestral Africa" (de Moraes in Rego 1968:330).
Powell studied music theory in Rio de Janeiro with Moacyr Santos, one of the
premiere arrangers in Brazil, and C6sar Guerra-Peixe, a composer, arranger,
conductor and musicologist (Marcondes 2000:355,715-716). As a component of
Powell's training, he was given composition exercises based on the seven Greek
modes, the liturgical modes of the Gregorian chants. During these studies, he
perceived a similarity between the Afro-Brazilian and Gregorian chants.
I began to work on a type of samba that was more black, which had a lament
close to the African chants and which appeared [similar to] the Gregorian
chants. The same ones that even the Jesuits taught the indigenous people in
[Northeastern Brazil]. Because of this, Northeastern music has a scale with a
lowered fifth, as do the Gregorian Chants (Powell in Dreyfus 1999:151)78
Powell developed thematic material for the Afro sambas from research trips
that he took to Bahia, as well as "a live folkloric recording of sambas de roda and
songs from candomble, with various exhibitions of berimbau in its diverse rhythmic
modalities" (de Moraes in Rego 1968:335). "Berimbau" was the first Afro Samba
composition released in 1963, and its theme centered on capoeira and the musical
bow. On the surface, it appears that Powell's goal was to imitate the sound of the
berimbau's melodic rhythms as utilized within the context of capoeira. A deeper
analysis of this process will reveal the structural characteristics of Powell's

The Lydian mode has a raised fourth (#4) scale tone in the Gregorian Chant Modal System.

96
compositional motif in relation to berimbau performance practice within the capoeira
tradition,
The principal contribution of "Berimbau" to Brazilian popular music was that
Powell applied a melodic-rhythmic theme derived from the berimbau in capoeira to
the guitar. This musical trope has become a recurring symbol of the berimbau and
capoeira in Brazilian popular music. An initial analysis of this example suggests that
Powell drew his material directly from a single berimbau playing the capoeira toque
commonly known as Angola?9
Transformed into a theme that could be performed on the guitar, and based on
a low E pedal tone, Powell used an e minor 7/11 chord alternating with an F# minor
11 chord. This passage features a jump from the E to the F# minor chord twice in the
first two measures, but does not return to the final F# chord until a syncopated
rhythmic interaction is introduced in the third measure and first half of the fourth
measure. This is supported by a melodic line using the word berimbau (see trans 2
and CD track I).80

Guitar

Voice :H
Bo - rim - bau

Be - rim - bau

Be - rim - bau

be - rim - bau

be - rim - bau

Transcription 2: Baden Powell's Adaptation of the Berimbau for the Guitar (Powell 1963-disc)
79

Perhaps this impression has also been derived from Powell's use of a single berimbau musician
accompanying him on the stage during performances of this composition.
80
Lyrics for "Berimbau" appear in Appendix A.

97
The above musical example has become a standard trope of the berimbau in
Brazilian popular music, and has been extended to the entire musical ensemble, with
the instruments of the lower register playing an E pedal, and the instruments of the
higher registers playing either the higher guitar or vocal lines (CD track 2). In
Powell's recordings, he begins with the above theme and immediately departs to a
series of variations, rarely returning to the basic motif. Two general characteristics of
his improvisations on this theme feature the removal of the tied notes at the end of the
first and second measure, as well as a displacement of the bass line by one eighth note
in the second and third measures (see trans 3).81
JLJL.

Guitar

Transcription 3: Variation of Berimbau Motif (Various Artists 2001-disc).

It is highly probable that Powell encountered capoeira musical ensembles that


featured multiple berimbaus during his research trip to Bahia. If this is the case, a
comparison of Powell's material with a fragment of the Angola capoeira toque played
by three berimbaus may demonstrate how Powell conceived this theme for use on the
guitar (see trans 4 and CD track 3).

81

For examples of guitar adaptations of mbira motifs in Zimbabwe, see Brown (1994) and Turino
(2000).

98

0:12
Viola

M4dio

3-

-HI

Lr

, (Caxixi)
Gunga

fr

Transcription 4: "Angola" for Three Berimbaus


(Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelouiinho 1996-disc)

Using Luiz D'Ammciacao's (1990a:72-74) analysis of berimbau toques within


capoeira, Powell's theme could be considered as being constructed of a combination
of the "Motive with the Addition of the Repique" (see trans 2 measure 1 and trans 5
"Motive with Addition of Repique") and a "Classic Variation" (see trans 2 measures
three and four and trans 5 "Classic Variation").82 The basic motive consists of the
theme reduced to its minimal structure (as in trans 2). In general, this motive is
elaborated upon, and these ornaments all support and reinforce the rhythmic ostinato
without breaking its flow. These types of elaborations of the motive include the
addition of the repique (buzz stroke) and the basic variation. A combination of the
motive with the repique and basic variation establishes the "Toque de Centro"
(central beat). A "Classic Variation" tends to temporarily interrupt the smooth flow
of the ostinato, without interrupting the continuity of the overall time cycle.

82

See fig 36 and related discussion for key to D'AnunciacJio's notation scheme. Corda represents the
right-hand stick played on the string; caxixi is the basket rattle produced by right-hand arm
movements; moeda is the left-hand coin movement on or off of the string; and uou is the sound
produced by the gourd movement away from or against the musician's body.

99

Motive

widi

Addition

of

Repi<j'

Corda
TJ-*

"

IF"*

Uou

-trt

Basic Variatiou

Basie

'II*

II

'? *

:iF

p *-*rt

Rhythmic Pattern (Toque <te Centre)

classic

Variation

flffl-rf-, i.j^f? ifP#rf--T---~nt^^

,>-

Transcription 5: Analysis of the Toque de Capoeira Angola (D'Anunda^ao 1990a:72-74).

Therefore, through analysis of Powell's adoption of berimbau melodic-rhythmic


material, he has drawn upon two of these compositional elements: the "motive with
repique," which is repeated, followed by the "classic variation."
Around 1962, Powell was introduced to the Bahian sculptor Mario Cravo, Jr.
(see fig 9, chapter one), who introduced him to the berimbau and demonstrated a few
toques representative of the capoeira tradition. Powell soon began accumulating lifeexperience in Afro-Brazilian culture, soon resulting in the composition "Berimbau"
(Rego 1968). Also around this time, Powell was introduced to a well-known Bahian
capoeira master, Canjiquinha, who initially told him to attend one of his capoeira
presentations at a downtown Salvador nightclub to learn about his craft. Powell
responded that he would prefer the confines of Canjiquinha's house, as the setting
would be more authentic (Duarte 1967). The person introducing the two artists
commented that Powell was a great guitarist, and after someone produced a guitar,

100
Canjiquinha had a change of heart. Biographer Dominique Dreyfus states that at this
moment,
Canjiquinha brought the gold. [He] began to sing and tell everything to
Powell. He told him the history of the berimbau, that later inspired [Powell]
to compose "Berimbau," the music that turned this into the most well known
instrument in Brazil...[In this song] Powell translates to perfection the
harmonies of capoeira songs and the sound of the berimbau. (Dreyfus
1999:91-93).
Dreyfus continues that Canjiquinha also exposed Powell to ceremonies at candomhle
temples and various capoeira exhibitions. Powell later confided to Rego that prior to
his meeting with Canjiquinha, he had no direct contact with any professional
capoeiristas (Rego 1968:336).
Journalist and biographer Ruy Castro (1990) suggested that Powell may have
composed "Berimbau" prior to visiting Bahia. By positing that all of Powell's
material had come from recordings as opposed to first-hand experience, he questioned
whether or not this material had been composed at a distance. Perhaps Castro
developed this concept from de Moraes's comments in the Afro Sambas recording
liner notes, which referenced a folkloric recording of sambas de roda, candomble
songs and capoeira music that served as a basis for many of their musical ideas (Rego
1968:335). A late 1990s interview with Powell sheds light on many elements that
came together that inspired what he saw, heard and felt when he was motivated to
compose "Berimbau."
When I heard the berimbau, I was emotional. I thought that it was a
marvelous thing, because I heard the berimbau on the praia de Amaralina,
9:00 at night, almost in complete darkness-an extremely important capoeira
fight. I think it was two people fighting for valor..., and I was [thinking
about] that.. .the feel of a ballet, the noise from the sea, nocturnal
And I

101
took a toque of the berimbau that goes 'don don dein, don don dih.' I took
and assimilated the sound of the berimbau on the guitar and wrote a beautiful
melody remembering that nocturnal seaside, thus very much representative of
Bahia (Powell in ESPN Brasil 2001).83
In a related article, Powell describes the feeling and historical significance of
what he perceives as the essence of Bahia:
When I go there, I stay very still.. .1 sit down in a plaza at night.. .and it feels
as if I'm sitting within history.. .1 begin to live all of the history. This for a
composer is a beautiful thing! It's not what I see, it's what I feel, you know?
The Afro sambas are my strongest side as a composer [and] instrumentalist....
When the guitar is tuned really low, it remembers Bahia (Powell in David
1998).
It is clear that Powell's use of berimbau melodic rhythms on his guitar are intended to
evoke the spirit of capoeira. What also becomes clear is that "Berimbau" represents
his personal vision of Afro-Brazilian history and its connection with Bahia as a sacred
space. Powell viewed capoeira as a means to settle a love dispute, which then
explains why he approaches the opening passage to "Berimbau" as an active dance
between two chords.

From Bossa Nova to MPB: Berimbau and Capoeira Themes in Brazilian Music
Festivals
Brazilian public music festivals have provided a space in which brasilidade
(Brazilianness) was defined and interpreted among three principal groups:
composers, the audience, and official festival judges. The general concept of public

83

I recorded an audio version of this quote on 17 May 2001, which aired on television. This
information is from a Baden Powell interview contained within a capoeira video produced by ESPN
Brasil, I have been unable to obtain a specific citation for this reference.

102
music competitions had already been well established by the 1960s. This can be seen
most prominently in the yearly carnival preparation cycle for the escolas de samba
(samba schoolsneighborhood carnival associations), which developed in the earlyto-mid twentieth century in Rio de Janeiro. As a component of developing these
annual presentations, various song competitions take place. Successful songs
concisely summarize the parade theme, exhibit poetic grace and possess a memorable
refrain.
All three compositions discussed below"Lapinha," "Domingo no Parque,"
and another song entitled "Berimbau"--incorporate themes of the berimbau and
capoeira, and were presented at adjudicated public music festivals, two in the late
1960s, and one in the early 1990s. The first work, "Lapinha," originally issued in
1968 on A Bienal do Samba (Various Artists 1968-disc), continues the discussion of
Baden Powell, and raises questions about authorship. If "Berimbau" was hailed as a
successful transformation of the berimbau's presence into popular music, why then
was Powell's authorship of "Lapinha" contested as having been plagiarized from
capoeira tradition?

"Lapinha"
Clearly, a variety of musical and cultural inspirations were combined to create
a soundscape that represented Powell's personal experiences and interests in the
early-to mid-1960s. In the late 1960s, Powell returned to a capoeira-based theme
with the song "Lapinha," composed with new partner Paulo Cesar Pinheiro.

103
"Lapinha" won first place in a national music festival, and it appears that the
participation in this festival may have sparked most of the controversy surrounding
this song. The chorus of "Lapinha" comes from a capoeira song, and the verse is a
newly composed samba. Officially, this song is registered to Baden Powell and
Paulo Cesar Pinheiro. A February 1968 interview with Powell notes that "'Lapinha'
is a song which is simple, harmonious, has good lyrics, is nice to sing and has
something that the people like: a strong refrain" (Powell in Anonymous 1968b). In
this interview, months before the music festival, there is no mention of this "strong
refrain" coming directly from the capoeira tradition.
In 1968 the first and only Primeira Bienal do Samba (First Samba Biennial)
was an invitation-only music festival sponsored by TV Record in Sao Paulo. When
festival organizers invited Powell, they assumed that he would bring his long-time
collaborator, Vinfcius de Moraes. Instead, he brought a young unknown lyricist,
Paulo Ce"sar Pinheiro. The festival jury initially rejected Powell's partnership with
Pinheiro, but finally allowed the duo to participate, due in large part to Powell's
potential box office draw as a prestigious guitarist and composer. Shortly after his
appearance, charges of plagiarism began to appear in Sao Paulo newspapers, accusing
Powell of stealing from the capoeira tradition. Powell publicly responded in another
newspaper article by claiming that the song merely cited a refrain of Bahian folklore
(Dreyfus 1999). As a result of these public exchanges, questions arose about
Powell's use of capoeira thematic material, specifically whether or not he was

104
correctly attributing authorship, and more pointedly, stealing and profiting from the
tradition.
"Lapinha" was not the first case in which Powell had been questioned about
the authenticity of his compositional material. In the early stages of Vinicius de
Moraes's and Powell's partnership, de Moraes once accused Powell of reproducing a
song that he believed to have been composed by Chopin. Upon reaching an impasse
late one evening, de Moraes woke up his wife, a classical pianist, who confirmed that
it was definitely not Chopin. Disgruntled by his defeat, de Moraes said "If it's not
Chopin, it's because he forgot to compose it" in the first place (de Moraes in Dreyfus
1999:82). According to biographer Dominique Dreyfus, Vimcius's intuition was
correct, he just cited the wrong composer. The piece "Samba em Preludio" appears to
be quite similar to "Preludio da Bachiana N 4," composed in 1930 by Heitor VillaLobos (Dreyfus 1999).
"Lapinha" is based on the legend of Besouro Mangang5 (Sorcerer Beetle),84
believed to be one of the greatest capoeiristas of all time. He was a valiant man,
defender of women and the persecuted, and according to legend, he confronted entire
troops of mounted police by himself (Lewis 1992). Besouro was betrayed by a lover,
and upon his death, his spirit began to roam and invade the minds of capoeiristas who
became possessed by the sound of his war cry, "zum-zum-zwn" a command that

84

Lewis (1992:168) cites nganga as a Bantu word signifying a medicinal and spiritual practitioner
from the Central African Kongo region. According to legend, when Besouro appeared to be
surrounded by military forces, he would "fly over their heads like a winged black beetle."

105
directed them to do things that they could not later remember.83 The only way they
could break this curse was to sing a song, which, "by coincidence" (Rebolo 1968) had
a beginning exactly like Baden Powell's "Lapinha" (see fig 15):
E quando eu morre
E quando eu morre
Oi, me enterre na Lapinha
Chapeu de Panama",
Paleto almofadinha

When I die
When I die
Bury me in Lapinha
Panama hat,
Soft, fancy clothes

Figure 15: Newspaper Critic's Citing ofCapoeira Lyrics (Reb61o 1968).

Powell's principal responses to charges of plagiarism suggested that he was


continuing the same compositional path established in Brazil by the prominent
Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, and that folkloric themes belonged to the
public domain. Moreover, he asserted that
if a composer wants to use a folkloric theme, it would be better for folklore,
since ... it gains a new force and ends up being well known in a different
region from which it was born and lived (Powell in Anonymous 1968a).
In a further attack on capoeira practitioners based in Sao Paulo, as opposed to
those from Bahia, Powell adds that "only the capoeiristas of Sao Paulo think that this
is plagiarism" (Powell in Anonymous 1968a). Drawing upon his previous
compositional successes, Powell continues
when I composed a theme based on the beat and sound of the berimbau, up to
then, no one had remembered this musical instrument, whose sound is the
most authentic Brazilian sound, if and only if we could say that Brazilian
sound existed (Powell in Anonymous 1968a).
In this regard, Powell is simultaneously acknowledging the sound of the berimbau as
a culturally authentic sonority that has become a national icon, while challenging the
"Zum-zum-zurn" is also a reference to the sound of the berimbau (Lewis 1992:167).

106
possibility that a sound could be associated with a national ideology, Powell supports
his use of traditional material to make his work particularly Brazilian while he
dismisses notions of an "authentic Brazilian sound."
In a final rebuttal to his critics in the Sao Paulo press, Powell cited a definition of the
term folklore from the Aurelio Buarque de HoUanda dictionary, and a quote from
North American composer Leonard Bernstein.86 Powell suggested that uninformed
music critics should educate themselves about folklore, and advised them of an
upcoming course offered by C6sar Guerra-Peixe in Rio de Janeiro. Attacks on Powell
also came from Canjiquinha, his Bahian capoeira informant, who recalled that Powell
was particularly interested in the song about Lapinha, and he repeatedly inquired
about obtaining rights to the song. He states that Powell
asked me how much the songs cost, saying that he could pay, but only a little,
since he didn't have any money. I said that they didn't cost anything, because
they weren't mine. I only asked that he note that these are the songs that
Canjiquinha sung to him, to say that they were from folklore. He then
promised me that if he were to ever use them, he would put on the record that
I had related the music to him (Canjiquinha in Duarte 1967).

86

"Baden consulted the Aurelio Buarque de Holanda dictionary and asked us to transcribe the passage
in which the mestre explains the significance of the word folclore: 'conjunto de tradigoes,
conhecimentos, ou crengas populares expressas em proverbios, cantos ou cangoes: conjunto das
cangoes populares de uma ipoca ou regiao; estudo ou conhecimento das tradigoes de um povo,
expresses em suas lendas, crengas, cangoes e costumes'" ("group of traditions, knowledge or popular
beliefs expressed in proverbs, stories or songs: group of popular songs of an era or region; study or
knowledge of traditions of a people, expressed in their legends, beliefs, songs and customs")(Powell
citing Holanda in Anonymous 1968a).
Citing Bernstein and the related bibliographic information (in Anonymous 1968a), Powell states: "Se
estamos tentando explicar mtisica, deveriamos explicar a mtisica, nao toda de uma sine de nogdes
extra-musicais, proprias de apreciadores, que tent crescido a sua volta cotno parasitas ("If we are
trying to explain music, we should explain music, not as a series of extra-musical notions,
characteristic of critics, who have evolved as parasites") (O Mundo da Leonard Bernstein, ed. Livros
do Brasil-Portugal, Pag, 17)."

107
Canjiquinha claimed that he did not want to personally profit from the song, but he
did want the proper origin of the song to be credited (Duarte 1967). He continues that
due to the brevity of capoeira songs, they are sung one after another, and that "the
song of Besouro has nothing to do with the Largo da Lapinha" in Salvador, since
Besouro was from Santo Amaro da Purificacao,87 and "almost never came to
Salvador" (Canjiquinha in Duarte 1967). Canjiquinha's comments appeared in the
press throughout the next few years, attesting that he was fighting for the rights of
Bahian folklore.

Musical Discussion of "Lapinha"


Following a discussion of Powell's "Lapinha," I will compare and contrast
multiple variations of "Lapinha" and related songs that I have encountered in capoeira
and samba musical genres. Powell's "Lapinha" is divided into three principal
sections that correspond with alternate versions. The first section begins with an
initial chorus that is comprised of the first two stanzas, each repeated (see trans 6A
and CD Track 4). It then presents a through-composed verse, which is not included
in the musical transcription. The second section bids farewell to Besouro and Bahia
(see trans 6B), and the third section consists of a tag line added at the end (see trans
6C). Powell's version of "Lapinha" features syncopated rhythms that accentuate the
first or second beat of each measure. This is a commonly employed compositional

Santo Amaro is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Salvador.

108
technique within the genre of samba.** The first chorus and verse of Powell's
"Lapinha" are sung by a solo voice, and upon return to the chorus, a group of voices
joins the refrain. In general, the tempo gradually increases, and dramatically speeds
up in the last two sections.

Quart - do/eu

mor - rer

me/en

pa - H

A - deus

Ba - hi

Zum

zum

zum

zum

to

zum

at

zum

te - re na

- mo

cor - d3o

meu

la - pin

fa -

di

de

oo

:ou

ro

Eu

vou

* ra

Transcription 6: "Lapinha" by Powell andPinheiro (Various Artists 1968-disc)

The three principal sections outlined above appear in the following version of
"Lapinha" by mestre Pastinha and his academy (1969-disc).89 Since this recording
was produced after the success of Baden Powell's "Lapinha," it is possible that
Pastinha's arrangement is the result of audience expectations due to the popularity of
Powell's recording. Nevertheless, it provides a contrast between Powell's version

88
89

Complete lyrics for Powell's "Lapinha" appear in Appendix A.


For other capoeira music recorded in the late 1960s, see Bimba (1968-disc).

109
and how this song would be performed within a capoeira context (see trans 7 and CD
track 5).
This song features less syncopation than Powell's version. The entire form is
sung by a lead solo voice, and the choral response only appears in the final section.
This demonstrates how Powell's version was designed to evoke the solo and group
call-and-response, although this occurs over the span of an entire chorus. In contrast,
capoeira call-and-response sections alternating between the leader and group, tend to
feature interaction in much smaller sections.

4:00
(0:00)

in nwm

JQuaii - do/eu

Cal

cs

cu

deus

Eu

vou

par

Ba

twot

lo

hi

tie

ver

Quern

me/en

te

ma

pa

zurn

ta

zurti

meu

ter

to

al

zum

Bes

re

na

mo

cor - d%o

Ouro E

La

fa

Pin

din

ha

ha

de

de zum

zum

ram

Bes - ouro

Transcription 7: Mestre Pastinha's version of'Lapinha" (Pastinha 1969-dise)

Other capoeira songs that are similar to "Lapinha" include a recording by


mestre Trafra in the late 1950s, and a closely related version by mestre Suassuna

110
(1975-disc).90 The version presented by mestre Traira demonstrates a likely source
that inspired Powell's interest in the legend of Besouro during his research trip to
Bahia (see fig 16).

Quando eu morrer
Ndo quero gritar nem misterio
Quero o berimbau tocando
Na porta do cemetirio
Umafita amarela
Gravada com o nome dela
Que ainda depots da morte e o hornen
Chamou cordao de ouro

When I die
I don't want crying or secret
rites
I want a berimbau playing
At the gate of the cemetery
A yellow ribbon
Engraved with her name
And still after death is the man
Called the golden belt

O melhor nome
Besouro, Cordao de ouro
O melhor nome
Cordao de ouro

The best name


Besouro, the golden belt
The best name
Cordao de ouro

Figure 16: Song about Besouro sung by mestre Traira (Traira 1958 [?]-disc)

Although this song is about Besouro and a funeral, it is quite different from
the song presented in the above two examples. In this example there is a berimbau
playing at the gate of the cemetery, perhaps in a nod to tradition in which the
berimbau is played at the funeral for some capoeira practitioners. A similar version
of this song appears on a recording by Mestre Suassuna (See fig 17, trans 8 and CD
track 6).
Quando eu morrer, disse Besouro
Quando eu morrer, disse Besouro
Ndo quero chow nem vela
tambem ndo quero barulho
na porta do cemiterio.
90

When I die, said Besouro


When I die, said Besouro
I don't want crying or a candle
I also don't want a lot of noise
At the gate of the cemetery

Capoeira scholar Greg Downey (1998) also presents a version of the lyrics that arc similar to
Suassuna's. Although Downey heard many variations of this song, he cites this as representative of the
most frequently performed version. A translation of mestre Suassuna's version is in Appendix A.

Ill
Eu quero meu berimbau
eu quero meu berimbau
com umafita amarela
gravado com o nome dela
E o meu nome
e Besouro
E como e meu nome?
4 Besouro

I want rny berimbau


I want my berimbau
With a yellow ribbon
Engraved with her name
And my name
It's Besouro
What is my name?
It's Besouro

Figure 17: "Quando eu Morrer, disse Besouro" (Suassuna and Dirceu 1975-disc)

Quao-du/eu mor-rcr

N5o

nlo que

- ro

ba

Eu quer

ru

que

dis - se Be-souro

ro

Iho

Corn inn 3

Quan-do/eu mor-rer

na

por - ta

rneu

fi

be

cho

la

am-ur

ro

do

rim

mm

ce - mi

bau

re

tor

Eu

la

gra

dis - Be Be-souro

ve - la

Tarn - bern

io

que - ro

va - do-

raeu

com/o

be

no

- rim - bau

me

de -

T
meu

nome

Transcription 8: "Quando eu Morrer, Disse Besouro," (Suassuna and Dirceu 1975-disc)

This song is similar to the previous ones in that it features the same ascending
melodic line at the beginning, as well as the same group response at the end. The

112
middle section is somewhat different, although the general theme about Besouro and
death is still prominent.
Downey (1998) was particularly interested in this song about Besouro, since it
was one of the most popular songs among novice capoeiristas. What perplexed him
was that this song did not conform to commonly practiced song structures exhibited
within the Grupo Capoeira Angola do Pelourinho (GCAP), a capoeira association
that has taken a leading role in shaping capoeira performance practice in Brazil and
the United States.91 In many traditional ladainhas, the capoeira dance is stopped
while the mestre sings an extended solo verse, followed by a chula (an extensive
salutatory call-and-response section), which leads into a succession of corridos (short
call-and-response songs) that accompany the dance. Downey considers the capoeira
song "E Besouro" to be a quadra (a type of ladainha that features an extended verse),
in which the dance continues without interruption. Moreover, this song moves
directly to a call-and-response section that closely resembles the corridos, thus
bypassing the chula section. As a result, Downey (1998:124) believes that "'E
Besouro' is a quadra text, modified and sung by members of GCAP with the melodic
inflection and rhythmic structure of a ladainha, but still retaining the call-andresponse ending not associated with ladainhas." He cites some examples for this
anomaly, ranging from individual preference in that it is "shorter and simpler than
other ladainhas" to contemporary practitioners imitation of mestre Traira's recording
of this song (cited above). He concludes "E Besouro" provides "evidence mat the

For more on GCAP's influence in the Northeastern United States, see E GaJm (2001).

113
solemnity and pacing that many angoleiros consider traditional orthopraxy may not
have been pervasive formerly in the rodas of capoeira" (Downey 1998:124).
The song represented by the three previous examples (Pastinha, Trafra and
Suassuna) exhibits strong connections to another song that has not been derived from
the capoeira tradition: Noel Rosa's "Fita Amarela," a nationally popular samba piece
that was composed in Rio de Janeiro towards the end of 1932.92
"Fita Amarela," was one of more than thirty of Noel Rosa's compositions
recorded for the 1933 carnival season (Severiano and Mello 1999:122) (see fig 19,
trans 9 and CD track 7). It was the eleventh most popular song of 1933, in terms of
national record sales and radio airplay.93

Quan-Uo/yu

Que ro/u - rna

fi

mor - rer

ta/a

ma - re - la

NSo

que

Gni - va - da

m
-

ro

com

1
cho

no

ro

nem

me

ve - ia

de - la

Transcription 9: "Fita Amarela" by Noel Rosa (Reis 1932-disc)

This song features the same ascending introductory motif presented in the capoeira
songs cited above.

92

Thanks to Claudia Tatinge Nascimento for suggesting this connection to me.


This figure is according to information presented at
http://www.hotl00brasil.com/timemachinel933.html, an internet resource that has constructed a "top100" song list for each year of the past century, through extensive national and regional archival
research.
93

114
Quando eu morrer
Nao quero choro nem vela
Quero umafita amarela
Gravada com nome dela

When I die
1 don't want crying or candles
I want a yellow ribbon
Engraved with her name

Figure 18: "Fita Amarela" by Rosa (Reis 1932-disc)

These lyrics suggest a likely origin of the variation in the lyrics of mestre Trafra's and
Suassuna's versions. If this song is the source of the capoeira material, then these
capoeira songs have been created as emulations of a popular samba composition, thus
demonstrating circular integrated musical traditions that feature interactive
commentary on each other, as opposed to distinct independent musical traditions. On
the other hand, it is possible that this song originated in Bahia, and followed a large
migration of Bahians to Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Rosa's authorship of "Fita Amarela" was also questioned, as various
individuals staked claims to this composition. "Fita Amarela" is believed to have
been part of the informal samba de roda musical repertoire of Rio de Janeiro, and it is
attributed to Mano Edgar (who died in December 1931) from the Estacio
neighborhood (see fig 20). The lyrics of this version are:
Quando eu morrer
Ndo quero choro nem nada
Eu quero ouvir um samba
Ao romper da madrugada

When I die
I don't want crying or anything
I want to hear a samba
At the crack of dawn

Figure 19: Samba de Roda attributed to Mano Edgar (Severiano and Mello 1999:122)

Therefore, it is likely that Rosa substituted the word vela (candle) for the word nada
(nothing), in order to accommodate his rhyming scheme of amarela

115
(yellow) and dela (of her).94
In all of the transcriptions presented above, the opening motif, "Quando eu
morrer," is based on an ascending syncopated phrase. Other motifs that are present in
all versions include the concept of being interred at a cemetery. In Rosa's version of
"Fita Amarela," he does not want "crying or a candle, just a yellow ribbon with a
name written on it." I believe that this "yellow ribbon" refers to an engraved ribbon
that bears the name of the deceased that is typically wrapped around a large funeral
wreath. Mestre Traira's version transforms this concept into a berimbau playing at
"the door of the cemetery." In this case, the yellow ribbon has become a yellow
berimbau.
In "E Besouro," the reference to the berimbau playing in the cemetery may be
a regional Bahian adaptation of a later verse of Rosa's lyrics that state "Stf quero
choro de flauta/Violao e cavaquinho" ("I only want the cry of a flute, guitar and
cavaquinho"). This refers to the urban choro tradition that developed in Rio de
Janeiro in the early twentieth century. If elements of this song moved from Rio de
Janeiro to Bahia, it is likely that the choro reference and its instruments gave
inspiration to a Bahian capoeira variation that features the berimbau. Since the
capoeira adaptation is an homage to the memory of Besouro, the berimbau context is

94

Towards the end of 1932, Rio samba composers Donga and Aldo Taranto composed a samba
recorded by Carmen Miranda entitled "Quando Voce Morrer," based on the same theme. Following
the success of Rosa's "Fita Amarela" in early 1933, Donga publicly accused Rosa of stealing from his
music. Although a third party who claimed to have suggested the refrain to Rosa resolved this debate,
it is unfortunate that the untimely death of Mano Edgar removed his perspective from this discussion
(Severiano and Mello 1999:122).

116
also relevant since some capoeiristas believe the berimbau should be played at the
funeral of a fallen comrade.
Lewis (1992) believes that the legend of Besouro has undergone dramatic
modernization, in order to keep current with the changing tradition of capoeira. For
example, one of Besouro's most prominent praise names is Corddo de Ouro (lit. "The
Golden Belt"), which has been posthumously granted, since the graduated belt
advancement system was introduced by mestre Bimba well after the 1930s. It is
possible that there is also a connection between "the golden belt" and a yellow
ribbon.
Additional evidence of interplay between Bahian capoeira song texts and
popular culture emerging from Rio de Janeiro highlights an artistic connection
between these two regions. Mestre Bola Sete cites the following capoeira song,
whose authorship is attributed to the public domain as "folclore" (see fig 18).
A melhor coisa do mundo
E tocar berimbau
La no Rio de Janeiro
Na Radio Nacional

The best thing in the world


Is to play berimbau
There in Rio de Janeiro
On Radio Nacional

Figure 20: "A Melhor Coisa do Mundo" (Bola Sete 1997:100)

This song demonstrates the impact of commercially produced popular culture


emerging from Rio de Janeiro and spreading throughout Brazil. The notion of
playing the berimbau on Radio Nacional highlights the commercial appeal of certain

117
aspects of Brazilian folklore, and would thus afford berimbau musicians a narrowly
defined window for national exhibition of their music.95
All of the musical examples in this discussion demonstrate the circular nature
of Brazilian popular compositional processes. Although capoeira is representative of
a distinct tradition, it has not existed in an isolated setting. Its practitioners also
performed samba and other related entities that were all historically related to
African-derived musical expression in Brazil. Baden Powell was not the only
composer to be accused of plagiarizing traditional culture for his own commercial
gain. Moreover, the very roots of the song that Powell incorporated into "Lapinha"
had an uncertain and perhaps circuitous history. This would certainly be an exciting
case study in the current environment of legally contested intellectual property rights
in the twenty-first century.

"Lapinha" Epilogue
In 1998, Powell asserted that he and Canjiquinha had remained friends over
the years, and reiterated his own influence of bringing the berimbau to national fame.
Powell recalled that when he was growing up in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s and
1940s, capoeira was practiced in the streets but "without a berimbau" (Powell in
David 1998). His biography notes the controversy sparked by "Lapinha," but it is

95

The aspiration for folkloric commercial success is also documented in a capoeira song registered by
Rego (1968:101-102): Niga fia teve ail Deu dinhdro pra marmel Deu dinheiro pra papail Deu came,
deufarinhal Deu cafi, deufeijdof Euporque era mininol Me dero urn tostaol Eu comprei meu
berimbau! Pra toed no Rio de Janeiro ("The black daughter was there/she gave money to my mother/
she gave money to my father/she gave meat, flour/she gave coffee and beans/And since I was a child/
she gave me a [worthless] old Brazilian coin/1 bought my berimbau/ To play in Rio de Janeiro").

118
dismissed as a smear campaign instigated by the organizers of the Sao Paulo festival
mentioned previously as a way to discredit Powell's collaborative partner, Paulo
Cesar Pinheiro (Dreyfus 1999:179).
"Lapinha" is significant in the sense that it was extremely popular, and won
first prize at a music festival. But many questions have been raised regarding
Powell's use of capoeira thematic material, and whether or not he had properly taken
credit for the composition of musical material. It is possible that this entire debate
may not have surfaced if "Lapinha" had not been submitted in a nationally promoted
competition.
In the mid-1990s, Powell converted to evangelism and refused to perform
certain Afro sambas such as "Canto de lemanja," (Song of Iemanja")96 and "Samba de
Bdncao" due to their identification with candornbU. In 1999, Powell was revisiting
studies of Gregorian chants for a series of evangelical music compositions (Sanches
1999). A fitting conclusion to Powell's life can be seen at his own funeral in
September 2000: his oldest son picked up his father's guitar and played "Lapinha"
(Matheus 2000), a song that is reminiscent of a capoeirista's passing.

Gilberto Gil and "Domingo no Parque"


Gilberto Gil was born in Salvador, Bahia in 1942. In the late 1960s, he
pioneered the tropicalista (tropicalist) movement with Caetano Veloso, which
incorporated the use of electric instruments and non-Brazilian musical elements into
, % Iemanjd is the goddess of the sea within ccmdomble. The name of this deity also can be spelled
"Yemanjd."

119
popular Brazilian music. As a result of the politically charged ideas conveyed in their
music, Veloso and Gil lived in exile in London from 1969 to 1972, although during
that time they both had compositions recorded in Brazil by other Brazilian singers.
In 1968, Gil submitted his composition "Domingo no Parque" (Sunday in the
Park) for competition in the III Festival de MPB (Third Festival of Brazilian Popular
Music), sponsored by TV Record in Sao Paulo. This festival marked the beginning of
a new phase of internationalization in Brazilian popular music. This was the first
Brazilian music festival where electric instruments were used. At that time, the use of
electric instruments and rock arrangements were often regarded as a capitulation to
U.S. cultural imperialism (Dunn 2002). In addition to the introduction of electric
instruments, Veloso and Gil introduced their concept of Som Universal (Universal
Sound), a synthesis of popular Brazilian song and the latest developments in
international pop.
"Domingo no Parque" (Sunday in the Park) was composed in 1967 and drew
heavily on the berimbau's status as a national instrument to create a collage of
international and regional musical expressions. Since "Domingo no Parque" was
composed a few years after the national popularity of Baden Powell's "Berimbau,"
the presence of the berimbau in Brazilian popular music was not a groundbreaking
event. An important aspect of this composition is the manner in which Gil utilized
the berimbau to draw upon familiar elements of Brazilian culture to help integrate
distinctive non-Brazilian elements into Brazilian popular music.

120
The III Festival de MPB featured an extremely large number of entries based
on Northeastern Brazilian themes. This was a result of the success of "Disparada,"
the winning selection at the previous festival, which featured a mix of musical styles
from Northeastern Brazil and the interior of Sao Paulo (Stroud 2000:89). "Domingo
no Parque" is principally composed as a fusion of two Northeastern rhythmic
structures: the baido, and a skeletal fragment of the motive from the capoeira Angola
toque. Baido is a Northeastern Brazilian popular music style that features a repeated
ostinato as a rhythmic base (see trans 10 and first measure of trans 12).

Baiao

Skeletal Motif

3~J
II

From Angola
Toque

Transcription 10: Baiao Rhythm

For the melodic portion of this piece, Gil borrows a motif from a popular calland-response capoeira song, "O le 16," in which the leader sings "O le le," and the
group responds "La la e la" (see trans 11 "O Le Le). He borrows the leader's second
statement (third measure) to construct a choral response to each of his brief
statements (see trans 11 "Domingo no Parque" and CD track 8).
"Domingo no Parque" tells a story of three people who form a love triangle,
set in an amusement park scenario. This love triangle can be seen as a dramatic
representation of the diverse musical influences that Gil combines within this
composition. This song was based on the music of Bahian musician Dorival

121
Caymmi, whose style features a strong connection to Northeastern Brazilian music
that features guitar and solo voice. Charles Perrone (1989:98-99) reports that "with
its blend of nativism, technology and novel narrative technique, 'Domingo no Parque'
is often considered to be an early manifestation of the tropicalista cultural
phenomenon."
Gil envisioned a mixture of electric and acoustic instruments accompanied by
a string orchestra and bound by a Brazilian rhythmic structure. He was influenced by
"OU"<0>[WraSon8)
Leader
O

Chorus

16

1(5

JT3

SjE
La

la - e - la

Ua

la - e

] j 5o

la.

"Doramgo no parque"

Leader

O rei da brin-ca - detra

O rei da con-fti - sao

Chorus
t

Jo - s6

Transcription 11: "O U he" capoeira song (Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho 1996-disc)
and "Domingo no Parque" (Gil 1968-disc)

the concept of a rock band/string orchestra arrangement from the Beatles' recording,
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles 1967-disc). Gil presented the
song to the prestigious Quarteto Novo ensemble, featuring musicians Hermeto
Pascoal and Airto Moreira, with the hopes that they would perform the song at the
festival. Once Gil suggested the addition of the electric guitar, the members of the
Quarteto refused to hear any more.

122
Airto, the most shocked member of the group, did not permit the explanation
to continue. As if he had heard a great blasphemy against the musical beliefs
of his group, the percussionist rejected the invitation without giving Gil the
smallest chance to argue (ironically, two years later, the purist Airto was in
the United States, participating in the fusion experiences with jazz and rock
commanded by the trumpet player Miles Davis; and later as a member of the
group Weather Report, generally playing in the company of keyboards and
electric guitars) (Calado 2000:123).
At the suggestion of arranger Rogerio Duprat, Gil invited the Beatles-type group "Os
Mutantes" to perform the composition. At first, the young musicians were not
interested in playing a piece that featured a melodic-rhythmic motif that drew from
capoeira, which they felt was "missing something" (Calado 2000:129). Although the
group was not inspired by the content of the piece, they were attracted to the potential
controversy that could occur during the performance. University-age nationalist
audience members comprised a portion of the audience at the festival, and they
bonded together to support or reject certain compositions. In anticipation of a
potential conflict, Gil devised a strategic plan to counteract the negative reaction to
the presence of the electric instruments: a prominently featured "brasilerissimo [very
Brazilian] berimbau, played by the percussionist Dirceu" (Calado 2000:137). Gil was
correct in his assumptions, as he received strong jeers from the university students in
response to the "electric guitar and bass of the Mutantes" (Calado 2000:136).
Gil consciously used the deeply rooted significance of the berimbau to
balance out his pushing of boundaries and incorporation of "non-Brazilian"
instruments and aesthetics into the fabric of Brazilian popular music. This process
drew heavily on notions from Brazil's modernist phase, most notably represented
through the writings of Oswald de Andrade and the Semana da Arte Moderna in the

123

early 1920s.97 Andrade's "Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil" (Brazilwood Poetry


Manifesto) (1924) emphasized Brazil as an underdeveloped or primitive culture that
consumed refined or civilized products from countries such as the United States. Gil
was inherently aware of this implied connection between electronic instruments
representing North American imperialistic culture. He was so concerned about the
staunch nationalistic platform of the hard-line university students, that he mocked
their ideology by commenting "Daqui a pouco vdo dizer que o berimbau e urn
instrumento importado" ("Before long they're going to say that the berimbau is an
imported instrument") (Gil in Stroud 2000:108).
In a more recent version of "Domingo no Parque" released in 1986 (Gil 2000disc), Gil has incorporated Baden Powell's berimbau phrase into the introduction.
The berimbau begins by performing the phrase as a solo, then accompanies the guitar
(see trans 12 and CD track 9). Although this phrase is not repeated elsewhere in the
composition, I am struck by the manner in which the introduction of this song has

Berimbau

Guitar

Transcription 12: Introduction of "Domingo no Parque" (Gil 2000-disc)

91

Brazilian modernism and the Semana da Arte Moderna is discussed in the introduction and chapter
five.

124
been reinterpreted to incorporate Baden Powell's trope for a younger generation, who
may well believe it originated in Gil's 1968 festival appearance.
Gil has continued to draw upon the berimbau to draw a distinction between
the local and the global some thirty years after the composition of "Domingo no
Parque." In the 1990s, New York Times music critic John Pareles observed that Gil's
use of the berimbau in the song "PolicamarS," a work that comments on the use of
satellite dish antennas and wireless telephones, suggests that this musical bow is one
of many means of communication, Through the berimbau, Gil reinforces a strong
connection with Banian tradition that "dances in the space between local and
international, [and negotiates] home-grown tradition and global information" (Pareles
1992). Although the means of this communication have been updated, the berimbau
still serves as a charged form of traditional communication, which simultaneously
locates and communicates Bahian, and Brazilian musical references to the world.

Olodum and "Berimbau"


In the early 1990s, the Bahian bloco afro Olodum enlisted the berimbau's
service as an active agent in a musical revolution against marginalization, to create a
connections between the local Bahian context and the broader African diaspora.
Originally founded as an annual carnival parading organization, Olodum was
reincorporated in the early 1980s to serve as a year-round cultural organization that
promoted a socially active agenda. The success of this business enterprise now
provides employment to hundreds of full and part time workers (Armstrong 2002).

125
Although the blocos afro have developed from the models of the Rio de
Janeiro-based escolas de samba (samba schools), some musical instruments have
been selectively omitted from these newer ensembles. For example, thepandeiro
(tambourine), a symbol of samba, has been removed from this group, and the surdos
(large low-pitched drums) have been afforded a much more prominent position.
This example of localizing national traditions is part of a process that strives
to differentiate Bahia from the rest of Brazil. This tension perhaps extends back to
1763, when the capital of Brazil was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. One
distinctive aspect of Banian culture can be seen in its celebration of independence
day. Banian independence is celebrated only in Bahia on July second in
commemoration of the evacuation of Portuguese troops. In contrast, the remainder of
Brazil celebrates September seventh as the official day of independence, when Dom
Pedro stood on the banks of the Ipiranga river near Sao Paulo and declared Brazil's
independence from Portugal in 1822 (Williamson 1992). This can perhaps explain
one reason why Bahians incorporated the term afro into their samba, in order to
directly connect Bahia to the African diaspora while simultaneously disconnecting
itself from culturally dominant parts of the Brazilian nation that may be considered
less authentic.98
Since Olodum and other carnival-based organizations must keep pace with
changing popular culture, three elements are crucial to their continued success:
knowledgeable directors; poignant songwriters; and a supportive public. Each year,

98

My thanks to Claudia Tatinge Nasciraento for pointing out this distinction.

126
directors must determine annual themes, select songs and incorporate aspects of local
and global symbolism that support the group's ideologies through artistic expression.
These songwriters must succinctly "synthesize these discursive threads into a limited
set of symbols" (Armstrong 2002:183), which must simultaneously relate to a broader
African diaspora as well as a local Bahian culture.
In 1985 Olodum began to produce a yearly composition festival contest called
FEMADUM (Festival de Musica e Arte do Olodum) as a means to build their
repertoire of pan-African themed material as well as provide ideas for the group's
theme for their annual carnival parade. This festival supplements informal rehearsals
where new material is presented to the community on a weekly basis. Each festival
edition features a different research theme, and the winning entries receive the honor
of having their music appear on an upcoming Olodum recording. Some songwriters
became professionals through this process, as commercial Bahian pop music groups
often record material featured by the blocos.
The winning song of the 1992 contest was entitled "Berimbau,"99 by Pierre
Onassis, Germano Menguel, and Marquinhos. The chorus of this piece begins by
naming the individual structural components of the berimbau-the wire, wood and
gourdwhich are then joined to transform into the berimbau. This is followed by a
musical citation of the trope from Baden Powell's "Berimbau." Powell's phrase is
modified in two ways: first, the berimbau performs this motif as a call-and-response
with the drumming ensemble, and second, the trope is modified with superimposed

99

There have been multiple compositions entitled "Berimbau" in Brazilian popular music.

127

lyrics derived from a popular capoeira song, "Oi sim, sim, sim, oi nao nao nao" (Oh
yes, yes, yes, oh no, no, no). This fusion from various sources thus becomes
"Berimbau sim, berimbau nao, berimba, berimba berimbau" (Berimbau yes,
berimbau no, berimba, berimba, berimbau) (see trans 13 and CD track 10).

Bcrimbnu

* *

zJ-

Drurnw

Melody
Bo rim

ban

sim

bar iin

b&u

nao

ba rim bitu

be

rim

bau

be rim

b&u

Transcription 13: Introduction of "Berimbau" (Oiodum 1992-disc)

The berimbau is thus used as a springboard into a song that asks listeners to
become aware of issues of black consciousness, pan-African and Pan AfricanAmerican musical cultures. In this context, "Berimbau" draws upon imagery of the
berimbau to evoke associations with a hunter's bow, and then promotes a nonviolent
strategy of resistance through the process of making music (see fig 21 and CD track
11).
O berimbau
Pedaco de arame, pedago de pau
Junto com a cabaga virou berimbau

Oh berimbau
Piece of wire, piece of wood
These joined with the gourd and
turned into a berimbau

Berimbau sim, berimbau nao


Berimba, berimba, berimbau sim,
Berimbau sim,
Berimbau nao, berimba, berimba
Berimbau

Berimbau yes, berimbau no


Berimba, berimba, berimbau yes,
Berimbau yes,
Berimbau no, berimba, berimba,
berimbau

O berimbau

Oh berimbau

128
Sacode a poeira, Madalena
Espante a tristeza e cante
Eu sou o Olodum, quern tu <&?

Shake off the dust, Madalena


Scare away the sadness and sing
I am Qlodum, who are you?

Vem, meu amor, com Olodum


nessa melodia
Vein, meu amor, deixafluir
essa alegria
Aguce sua consiencia,
negra cor, negra cor

Come, my love, with Olodum in


this melody [song]
Come, my love, let this
happiness flow
Sharpen your awareness,
color black color black,

Deixe para o mal que nos rodeia

Leave the evil that surrounds us


[alone]
If you defend yourself, the
weapon is musical

Se defender, a arma 6 musical


Cantando reggae, cantando jazz,
cantando blues
Eu louvo jah, eu digo
"jd chegou Olodum"
"Olodum

Singing reggae, singing jazz,


singing blues
I exalt Jah, I say
has
just
arrived"

Figure 21: Lyrics of'Berimbau" (Olodum 1999-disc)

This song invites the listener to create a sense of self-awareness and fight
negative forces with a positive musical experience. Contrasting symbolism can be
seen in lyrics, for example, in the use of the term negro, which simultaneously
represents positive aspects of black pride and beauty, and negative aspects in relation
to racist stigmas. Armstrong explains that these stigmas and valorization
are products of the New World experienceslavery, and biracial or multiracial
societies where blacks were disenfranchised by whitesthe term negro relates
to the experience of the diaspora despite its poetic recourse to the Mother
Africa figure (Armstrong 2002:186).
He believes that Olodum's use of the term negro and afro suggests a unified
connection throughout the African diaspora that symbolically relates to the continent
of Africa. More specifically, the use of negro has replaced the local term, baianidade

129
(the essence of a uniquely Bahian feeling or cultural construct) that now represents a
connection to global urban black cultures, as opposed to a regional distinction.
Olodum was initially comprised of individuals with non-mainstream alternative
lifestyles, and others who were interested in furthering debates about racist processes
in Brazil. As a result, "Glodum's constituency [was] conceived as an axis of
dissident solidarity" (Armstrong 2002:185).
The symbolism of the parts of the berimbau refers to processes of
miscegenation in Brazil, where the individual disparate components have joined to
create something that is representative of Brazilian and Bahian musical culture.
Moreover, the reference to a musical weapon as self-defense simultaneously suggests
primitive associations with the hunter's bow being transformed into a musical bow.
This "musical weapon" extends beyond the berimbau, and invokes a unified African
diaspora by "singing reggae, singing jazz, [and] singing blues."
The usage of these linguistic codes
suggests a cultural mobility that ranges from African legacy, to Afro-Brazilian
experience, and to the global, represented by English, not so much as a
language but rather as a stylistic marker of modernity itself, as an alterity in
relation to local tradition (Armstrong 2002:189).
In this case, there is a rejection of a national Brazilian identity towards a diasporic
ethnic identity.100 Olodum's use of these symbolic messages in conjunction with the
berimbau allows the group to promote their ideological concepts through a myriad of
potent images that resonate with the vibrant public. By positioning their debate as a

100

This shift is noticeably present in the term bloco afro, as opposed to bloco afro-Brasileim
(C Nascimento 2004-int).

130

celebratory protest against racism and marginalization, Olodum is drawing upon the
Bahian imagery of the berimbau to promote a local product in a globalized
marketplace, thus taking its place alongside reggae, jazz and blues.

Conclusion
The berimbau has occupied an important place in more than three decades of
popular Brazilian compositions. Baden Powell, Gilberto Gil and other composers
cited in this chapter have utilized the berimbau and capoeira in contrasting ways to
portray common characteristics in Brazilian popular music from the early 1960s to
the early 1990s. Baden Powell's "Berimbau" brought the sound image of the
berimbau from the capoeira circles to the musical mainstream of Brazilian popular
music.
Brazilian popular music festivals have provided a space with which to
redefine contested notions of what should be considered a Brazilian aesthetic.
Themes of the berimbau and capoeira have been used in various ways in songs
submitted for competition at public music festivals from the late 1960s to the early
1990s. When Powell composed "Lapinha," he encountered charges of stealing from
the tradition, since he incorporated a capoeira song without properly crediting
traditional culture as the source of the material. He viewed this situation as a result of
fabricated charges that were promoted by disgruntled festival organizers. He believed
that he had followed the same compositional process as "Berimbau" which was hailed
as an innovative transformation of the berimbau's sound into the melodic rhythms of

131
the guitar. Nevertheless, the exploration of the roots of "Lapinha's" compositional
foundation raises questions about how capoeira thematic material has become
incorporated into the tradition, and how that material eventually becomes
representative of the tradition.
Gilberto Gil's "Domingo no Parque" attempted to expand Brazilian popular
music practice by incorporating electric musical instruments at a traditionally acoustic
music festival. In anticipation of a strong negative reaction from festival audiences,
Gil drew upon the nationally recognized presence of the berimbau as a means to
pacify this component of the audience.
The socially progressive Bahian carnival music group Olodum recognized the
power of the public music festival format, and produced its own festival to keep a
steady stream of material available for domestic and international consumption in the
world music marketplace. Another song entitled "Berimbau" was the winner of the
1992 festival, and featured yet another citation from the musical trope expressed in
Baden Powell's "Berimbau."
Moving deeper into the realm of recent expressions of Brazilian popular
music, chapter three features discussions of new musical genres that have been
created with the berimbau and capoeira functioning as prominent organizing
elements. New performance styles are addressed, as well as how the berimbau has
been used in conjunction with technology in Brazilian electronic dance and popular
music.

132

Chapter Three
The Berimbau in New Genres and Electronic Dance Music

This chapter addresses the berimbau's presence in recent Brazilian popular


music from the mid-1990s to the present. Musical examples in this chapter
demonstrate a shift in emphasis from a Brazilian national identity towards the
promotion of an ethnic identity. This is a principal distinction from the material
presented in chapter two. Along with this changing notion of identity, the berimbau
continues to portray notions of tradition and history via capoeira. The berimbau can
also signify modernity and the latest cutting-edge musical trends, or a simultaneous
combination of these contrasting realms.
Another distinction of the musical examples in this chapter compared with
chapter two is that contemporary musicians and composers borrow freely from North
American music cultures, even to the point of incorporating the English language into
the titles of their compositions, album titles and names of musical ensembles. As was
demonstrated in chapter two, Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil were selective in their
use of non-Brazilian musical elements in their compositions. Nationalist music critics
such as Tinhorao (1986) openly denounced bossa nova composers for their use of
North American jazz in their music, but they still considered it as an influence from
the upper classes. On the other hand, rock and roll was seen as a bastardized musical

133
form, since it was closely linked to revolutionary youth countercultures (Araujo 2004int).
I begin by presenting a discussion of issues surrounding the incorporation of
North American popular musical styles into 1970s Brazilian music and culture.
Public dance gatherings that emerged in Rio de Janeiro and later in Salvador, Bahia in
the mid-1970s, largely influenced contemporary black musical expression in Brazil.
In recent years, Brazilian "funk" music has been revitalized, and is now one of the
most popular forms of urban musical expression.101
Following this discussion is a series of case studies that demonstrate how the
berimbau has served a variety of important roles related to identity in the construction
of the new musical genres Brazilian rap and Brazilian electronic dance music. The
range of symbolism and meaning that is assigned to the berimbau within these
contexts depends largely upon the individual composer's background and experience.
Nonetheless, it is clear that in all of the following examples, the berimbau is invoked
to distinguish a unique Brazilian identity within distinctly non-Brazilian music
genres.
Due to conflicting ideologies and definitions of the term afro brasileiro (afro
Brazilian), activist groups have found it difficult to politically mobilize as a result of
pressures from within and outside of the black community. The use of the term "Afro

101

Sansone (2002:138-139) defines the term funk in the 1970s as a reference to United Statesproduced modem black pop music, including James Brown and the Jackson Five. This has been
extended in the 1990s to represent various electronic musics that are tenuously associated with hiphop, house, electronic funk and other North American black pop music. He later provides local
definitions of funk in various regions throughout Brazil.

134

Brazilian" has developed from a process that took root in the early 1970s. During this
time, some Brazilians began to formulate an Afro Brazilian identity that racially
identified with black people from other countries. Today, this term, as well as the
term "Negro" are used by black activists as politically-charged indicators of black
identity (Hanchard 1994). Moreover, the term "afro descendente" (Afro descendant)
has recently emerged as another alternative to the previously mentioned terms, which
de-emphasizes bipolar white/non-white relationships, and is expanded to include
cultural activities, such as the affirmation of black culture communities (R Ferreira
2000:49). Osmundo de Araujo Pinho (2002:196) suggests that a series of
"transnational connections" affected young "Afro-Brazilians," such as political
struggles related to African decolonization, North American soul music, and the
Black Power movement. Since the 1970s, music has emerged as a central medium in
which many aspects of these issues are addressed in a public forum on a national
scale (Hanchard 1994).

The Bailes da Pesada and Black Rio


Beginning in the early 1970s, a series of public dance gatherings began a
process that led to a national expression of black cultural pride. These dances,
initially known as the bailes cariocas (Rio de Janeiro-based dances)102 and bailes da
pesada (heavy dances), were popularized in Rio de Janeiro, and later spread to Sao
Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Salvador. These dances were initially held at nightclubs

Carioca is indicative of a person from Rio de Janeiro.

135
in Rio's wealthier zona sul (southern zone) neighborhoods, and featured an eclectic
mix of rock, pop, and North American soul music recordings, highlighting artists
such as James Brown and Kool and the Gang. Following the success of these dances,
other equipes (disk jockey/sound system groups) were formed and began to play in
Rio's lower class zona none (northern zone). Although some of these groups chose
names like Revolu<jao da Mente (Revolution of the Mindinspired by James Brown),
Black Power and Soul Grand Prix, these dances were not exclusively directed at black
consumers. By the mid-1970s, some of these groups began projecting images on the
walls of North American black musical artists, sports figures and record covers
during the dances. In 1976, a newspaper article about these dances appeared in the
Jornal do Brasil, entitled "Black Rio-The (Imported) Pride to be Black" (H Vianna
1988:27). Following this publication, these soul dances became known as Black Rio,
references to it soon began to appear in the lyrics of Gilberto Gil, and its imagery was
co-opted by factions of the Brazilian black movement. In 1977, black activist Carlos
Alberto Medeiros declared,
It is clear that to dance soul and use [stylized] clothes doesn't resolve
anyone's basic problems. But it can provide the necessary emulationbeginning with the recreation of black identity lost in the African Diaspora...
in order to be united and together [and] overcome their difficulties
(Medeiros in H Vianna 1988:28).
Medeiros's observation suggests that the meanings associated with this movement
transcended fashion styles and served to construct and reinforce ties to Afro Brazilian
or Pan African unity.

136
When Afro-Brazilians began to adopt related fashion styles such as large afro
hairstyles, known as Black Power hairdos, and dashiki clothing, they were denounced
as "un-Brazilian" and "implicitly antinationalist" (Winant 1994:144).l03
Anthropologist Peter Fry (H Vianna 1988:28) observed that these dances represented
a "movement of great importance in the process of forming black identity in Brazil."
Carlos Negreiros, an Afro-Brazilian musician from Rio de Janeiro who has
performed with highly acclaimed musicians and ensembles including Milton
Nascimento and the Orquestra Afro Brasileira (Afro-Brazilian Orchestra), and he
actively participated in the bailes da pesada in the mid-1970s. He recalls that
audiences listened to songs in English. Since the majority of participants spoke only
Portuguese, they were under the impression that this music was "something
revolutionary, [which] brought revolutionary attitudes and emotions with it"
(Negreiros 2001-int:30 Mar). In response to the energy from this music, audiences
shouted aggressively, raised their fists above their heads and joined in the spirit of
protest. They assumed the lyrics discussed heated topics related to the North
American struggle for civil rights, but they later discovered that many of these were
actually love songs, with content such as "my lover left me, and I'm going to go and
get her in my car" (Negreiros 20Ql-int;30 Mar). Negreiros recalls that the Brazilian
recording industry observed this process, and began to issue new material with songs
composed "in Portuguese that responded to the expectation that [Brazilians] had
when [they] heard the music" (Negreiros 2001-int:30 Mar).

103

Hanchard (1994:111-119) also provides a brief overview of the "black soul" phenomenon.

137
The first Black Rio albums were produced in 1976, and featured popular
artists such as Uniao Black, Gerson King Combo, Robson Jorge, Rosa Maria, Tim
Maia and Tony Tornado (H Vianna 1988:30). With the exception of Tim Maia, the
public was not receptive to these recordings, and the record companies soon
abandoned this genre, suggesting that although "a large following of funk existed in
Brazil, it did not have sufficient 'acquisitive power' to purchase recordings (H Vianna
1988:31). The Black Rio movement was quickly surpassed in nightclubs and in the
recording industry by disco fever in the late 1970s.
The inspiration of the Black Rio movement spread to other urban centers in
Brazil, particularly Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, and Salvador. Symbols associated
with North American soul music began to be utilized as a means to create local
expression, especially in the case of the blocos afro in Salvador. As mentioned
previously, the blocos afro are Bahian carnival parading groups that took to the
streets as an attempt to reclaim carnival culture as a decisively Afro-Brazilian form of
expression. In his study of the Bahian carnival, Antonio Riserio most likely provided
the first documentation of the impact of Black Rio on the development of the first
bloco afro, 116 Aiye, in 1974. Jorge Watusi, one of 116 Aiye's founders, makes a
comparison between the bailes da pesada in Rio de Janeiro and the dances that
transpired later in Salvador.
In Rio de Janeiro, it had a more apparently alienated commercial aspect,
because they did not have such an intense relation with the roots of black
culture. Here, in Bahia, it was very different. The consciousness clearly came
with fashion. It had that sound, those clothes, etc. Later, with time, people
saw that the fashion perspective was not so important. It was then that we
created He Aiye. I think that with He AiyS, it began to change from one thing

138
to another. ..[and] that a more realistic Afro-Brazilian orientation was
emerging in the carnival (Watusi in Ris6rio 1981:31-32).
Watusi is suggesting that Salvador presents a more authentic portrayal of black
Brazilian culture, as opposed to Rio de Janeiro, thus emphasizing regional superiority
over a cultural center that had traditionally dominated cutting-edge Brazilian musical
and cultural production. This is another aspect of Bahia's attempts to distinguish
itself from Brazilian national cultural models that have emerged from the cultural
centers of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Since the mid-1980s, various aspects of Afro-Brazilian culture have
undergone a rebuilding process, aided in part by new economic opportunities which
offered promises of upward social mobility for a broader spectrum of the population
(Sansone 1999). Moreover, events such as the 1988 centennial commemoration of
the abolition of slavery, helped to focus national media attention on Afro-Brazilian
cultural issues.
In 1995 the state of Rio de Janeiro declared an annual holiday known as
"National Black Consciousness Day." This holiday is named in honor of Zumbi, the
last king of the Quilombo dos Palmares, Brazil's largest maroon colony of escaped
slaves that numbered 30,000 at its peak in the late 1600s. During the celebration of
this holiday in 2000, many middle-class Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro conveyed to me
their frustration with the "needless" abundance of holidays (such as this particular
day) that limited their access to financial and other legal transactions. They perceived
that an excessive number of holidays were one of many reasons for Brazil's
continued economic problems. Although I experienced many of these extended

139
weekend holidays in Brazil, this particular holiday was visibly singled-out as an
unnecessary commemorative event.104

Samba Reggae and Reggae


The blocos afro promote themes of black consciousness, principally through
the musical genre samba reggae, which has been influenced in part by concepts and
aesthetics related to Jamaican reggae. Antonio J. V. dos Santos Godi (2002:207)
suggests that "reggae is a cultural expression of a localized disorder, of a chaos with
its own temporal and territorial context" that is no longer confined to the borders of
Jamaica. Since reggae is now produced, disseminated and consumed in many
countries outside of Jamaica, it has come to represent newly-defined local expressions
as well. In Bahia, the term "reggae" is now used to signify "party," meaning both a
musical genre and a pleasurable lifestyle (Godi 2002:218). Reggae took hold in
Bahian culture through the establishment of reggae bars in the working-class black
neighborhoods of Maciel-Pelourhinho in the 1970s. This area was where some
blocos afro held their rehearsals, as well as where alternative artists and black
militants congregated. At this time, reggae was "regarded as a marginal cultural
movement" (Godi 2002:215).
In 1979, the year of Olodum's founding, musician Gilberto Gil released "Nao
Chore Mais,"(Don't cry anymore) a Portuguese-language version of Bob Marley's
"No Woman, No Cry," which became associated with the struggle to end the rule of

104

It is also possible that this holiday is more frequently cited because it is a recently-declared holiday.

140
Brazil's military dictatorship. Following this song's success, Brazilian-produced
reggae was sung "in clear Portuguese" and became popular on the airwaves (Godi
2002:215).105
Reggae became strongly interlinked in Bahia with the Movimento Negro
Unificado ("Unified Black Movement") following the death of Bob Marley on May
11,1981. Prior to this time, May 13 signified the commemoration of the abolition of
slavery in 1888. Godi suggests:
If May 13 represented a historical-ideological construction based on the
official decrees of the past, May 11 would come to represent the invention of
a recent tradition made possible by a mass-mediated and globalized cultural
context that was determined primarily by black music (Godi 2002:214).
In this Brazilian context, reggae music and Bob Marley, both of which were
established global icons of musical resistance against dominant forces, became fused
with the annual commemoration of when Afro-Brazilians officially gained their
freedom from slavery. Therefore, the global symbolism of reggae music has
incorporated a local meaning, which in turn serves to regionalize musical expression,
and provides this new entity with a distinctive Brazilian label for its reintroduction
into the international musical marketplace.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, two blocos afro, Male Debale and Muzenza,
clearly identified themselves with Bob Marley and Jamaican cultural aesthetics. In
the mid-1980s, the group Olodum created and popularized a drumming style that
came to be known as the musical genre of samba reggae. This innovation derived
105

Peter Fry (1982-vid) presents a documentary of Glodum's preparations for the group's carnival
parade. This example demonstrates that the organizational schemes of the blocos afro were based on
models of the neighborhood escolas de sambas established in Rio de Janeiro.

141
from some of the percussion instruments from the Rio de Janeiro-based samba
schools, and featured dramming techniques from the Banian candombli. As a result
of this process, "samba reggae would come to represent a determining example of the
mix between the local roots of samba and an already global reggae" (Godi 2002:213).
Although Jamaica and Bahia are geographically distant, the reggae and bloco
afro cultural movements emerged in similar political, historical and cultural
environments. These groups developed similar concepts of a Utopian Africa, which
helped to ideologically bring them together.
Both groups constructed Africa as a mythic locus that provided a feeling of
origin, dispersion, and symbolic reunion. The notion of black diaspora
reflects strong associations with the development of new ideas of time and
space within the electronic cultural market in which music plays a central role.
Ultimately, what was far away would appear close and points of reference of
identity could be revisited by historic and geographic memory (Godi
2002:213-214).
Young Brazilian musicians and consumers are using an extension of this concept in
more recent genres of Brazilian funk and hip-hop, which is providing a means to
question notions of Brazilian nationality in new ways.
By claiming links with other transnational identities formed in the African
diaspora, young people who consume hip-hop and reggae have rejected the
official cultural identity offered by the nation and have found, in music, a way
of articulating the specificity of their own social experience (Pinho 2002:202203).
As a result, music produced by Brazilian youth cultures now promotes notions
of a diasporic ethnic identity comprised of internationally produced current popular
trends. This transcends the traditional model of an isolated Brazilian nationality

142
comprised of culture production that has been derived from historically linked
heritages. Moreover, both Jamaica and Brazil are historically linked to Africa.
Examples of this new identity as they relate to recent popular music genres are
presented in the following sections. The berimbau has figured prominently in each of
these examples, yet the extent of the musical bow's symbolism depends upon the
distinct background of the composer or musician. Beginning with the group
Berimbrown, I consider aspects of Afro-Brazilian popular expression highlighted in
the introduction to this chapter. Following this is an example of how the berimbau
has been used in Brazilian hip-hop as a symbol of perseverance and resistance in
contemporary Afro Brazilian music culture. I then present how the berimbau has
been used in Brazilian electronic dance music, and how it is affected by sampling,
filtering and sequencing. In each of these musical examples, the berimbau functions
as an indicator of Brazilian cultural identity within contemporary musical contexts.

New Genres: Berimbrown (Congopop)


New musical genres have recently appeared that utilize the berimbau and
capoeira as primary components for fusions of various Brazilian and non-Brazilian
musical styles. In the example of Berimbrown, the berimbau's presence figures
prominently in their philosophy. Moreover, the musical bow has moved from an
instrument of the auxiliary percussionist, usually located at the rear of the stage, to
being featured alongside the lead singer at the front. The physical location of the
berimbau follows precedents that were established in the 1960s public performances

143
by Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil, discussed in chapter two, where the berimbau was
placed at the front of the stage as a featured instrument.
The group Berimbrown, from the city of Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais, has
evolved from an extended process spanning over a decade. It was initially a
neighborhood organization created in 1991, following the model of the Bahian blocos
afro. After a period of transformation, it adapted formulas from the mangue
movement, which incorporated eclectic themes and musical instruments from
Brazilian folklore (such as three large African-derived drums, similar to alfaias used
in Pernambucan Maracatu) into a standard rock band framework.106 Berimbrown's
music is described in their promotional material (Berimbrown n.d.) as a mixture of
"Afro-Mineiro sound sources," which include the congado [processional dances that
feature themes of royalty and coronation], capoeira and the folia de reis [groups that
play religious music in the streets in December and January] along with international
pop rhythms such as "funk, soul music, rap and reggae." Berimbrown has titled the
musical genre representative of this composite sonority as "congopop." This genre
contains everything from "mineiro regionalism to African universalism," produced by
musicians inspired by the bailes do funk (funk dances)107 who have soul and funk
music "impregnated in [their] DNA." The berimbau is a principal icon of
Berimbrown's identity, which they believe is a "symbolic instrument with the

1* p o r comprehensive discussions on the mangue movement in Recife, Pernambuco, see Galinsky


(1999) and Teles (2000).
107
This term has emerged in recent years. It is related to the dances that have emerged following the
spread of the dances from the Black Rio movement. See Sansone (2002).

144
capacity to make a lot from a little," thus enabling them to "mine art with [their]
hands" (Berimbrown n.d.).108
Berimbrown's group identity is summarized in its name, a fusion of the words
berimbau with (James) Brown. The development of this identity can clearly be seen
in two subsequent album covers. Berimbrown (2000-disc) is the group's
independently-released debut album, which features a collage of multiple
representations: National Brazilian culture, including images and icons of soccer,
capoeira, and a homemade scooter; Regional Mineiro culture, including a banner
from a congado Mineiro (processional dances that represent African royalty) carnival
group; and icons of global urban black cultures, including a man in a James Brownstyle dance pose, a long hair pick, and a pair of tennis shoes tied together as if they
were hanging from a high-tension line (see fig 22). Their next album, Obd Ld Vent
Ela (2002-disc) is a CD that contains multiple remixed tracks of Jorge Benjor's song
of the same title. The album cover artwork demonstrates how Berimbrown's identity
has been condensed from a colorful collage of various cultural influences cited in the
previous example, to a concise synthesis of James Brown and the berimbau presented
in black-and-white (see fig 23). In this example, the berimbau has literally become
James Brown with an Afro-laden gourd sporting sunglasses, and its open mouth is
singing energetically. The font type used for the band's name is reminiscent of 1960s
psychedelic culture.

108

This reference relates to the state of Minas Gerais ("general mines"), one of the principal locations
of Brazil's preeious metal and gemstone deposits.

145

... -.

.. r

'

* /..

.'

-.'"f

'SB1'...

A
u
i

Figure 22: Iterimbrovn CD Cover (Hi-riiubrown 2000-disc)

5; O^c W Vew ftTa CD Cover (Bcrimbrown 2002-disc)

.,' V

146
Although James Brown serves as a central figure, the band's sound draws
from a broad range of North American funk big bands including Earth Wind and Fire,
Sly and the Family Stone, and KC and the Sunshine Band. Moreover, Berimbrown
presents an eclectic mix of African American fashion styles from the 1960s to the
present, including a broad range of hairstyles such as large afros, dreadlocks, high-top
fades, and cleanly-shaven heads, as well as wide-collared plaid suits, bell-bottom
jeans and "Air [Michael] Jordan" sports jerseys (see Fig 24Mestre Negativo is in the
middle of the front row, wearing sun glasses and dreadlocks).

".-*-

.}

.'..">

'***'

-N
Figure 24: Berimbrown (Berimbrown n.d.)

As a young boy growing up in Belo Horizonte, Berimbrown's cofounder and


capoeira mestre Negativo, learned how to make a berimbau from a design that he saw
in an introductory capoeira book. He assembled various household materials,

147

including a stick for the bow, clothesline for the string and a plastic margarine tub for
the resonating chamber. He says, "this gave a sound. Really bad, but it gave a
sound" (Negativo 2001-int). Later, when he was in school, he met a person who was
selling painted berimbaus that he had recently obtained from Bahia. He urged
Negativo to buy quickly, since the instruments were selling fast. As time passed, the
person eventually disposed of his unsold berimbaus, and left them outside of his
house for trash collection, which is where Negativo picked one up and took it home.
He states, "this is how I got a real berimbau. I learned how to play the berimbau by
myself, and [this is how] I discovered the berimbau" (Negativo 2001-int).
Mestre Negativo also comments on how the present incarnation of
Berimbrown represents a summary of his life's experiences and enables him to
present multiple expressions of Afro-Brazilian identity in a single musical ensemble.
I'm proud to be someone who introduced the berimbau into a music that I
could say is a summary of my own life: Berimbau from capoeira, soul music,
James Brown ... I wore an afro this big, [my] pants were so big, and the
drums that we use in Berimbrown are from the congado, and from maculeli
[Northeastern stick dance]. So for me, it's very big, to [promote]
Berimbrown, principally, as a symbol of capoeira, which is my sign, which
balances my equilibrium. (Negativo 2001-int)
Although the symbolism of the berimbau is still very strong within the context
of capoeira, mestre Negativo suggests that current technology is affecting the
attitudes of younger capoeira practitioners. He remembers that when he was younger,
individuals were associated with capoeira by carrying a berimbau with them as they
traveled throughout the neighborhood.
You [had] to cross the streets with your berimbau in hand.... Today, you have
those who put a capoeira CD in their bag, and [the earphones] in their ear....

148
For example, I give a capoeira class in an academy in the southern zone of
Belo Horizonte, and all of the students arrive, everyone, with a cell phone. I
had 40 students in the room, putting 40 cell phones on the ground. I didn't
find anyone with a berimbau (Negativo 2001-int).
By recognizing these changing attitudes, mestre Negativo has been inspired to update
capoeira musical material within the synthesis of Berimbrown's musical ensemble.
The recording Berimbrown (2000) is packed full of multiple layers of quotes and
citations from the capoeira tradition. Additional references to Afro-Brazilian and
North American urban Black culture are incorporated into this mixture, and the
resulting fusion of these elements creates a multi-vocal musical and cultural
expression that enables traditional Brazilian music to coexist with other forms of
mass-produced popular musical expression.
Berimbrown's "Mel6 do Berimbau" demonstrates how traditional capoeira
material has been utilized. The beginning of this song draws on a traditional capoeira
ladainha (an introductory solo often sung by a master), the "BeaM do Berimbau"
(The Alphabet of the Berimbau; see fig 25, trans 14 and CD track 12).109 The lyrics
of these songs will be interspersed throughout the discussion as musical citations.
"Beaba do Berimbau" is a traditional capoeira song performed as a solo by the
capoeira master at the beginning of a dance-game. Ladainhas serve to salute the
spirits of previous masters and educate practitioners (and reinforce this education
through repetition) about significant elements that pertain to the tradition. "BeaM do
Berimbau" introduces physical components of the berimbau, including the names of

109

The transcription and lyrics have been derived from my fieldwork and are slightly different from
the recorded music example (Pastinha 1969-disc).

149
the various parts and how it is played. Moreover, this song serves to instill the
berimbau's spiritual and symbolic significance to practitioners, demonstrating that the
berimbau itself possess powers greater than its physical components.
Leader: Eu vou ler o beabd

Leader: I will read the


alphabet110
The alphabet of berimbau
The gourd and rattle
It has a piece of wood
old colleague
The coin and wire
Here is the berimbau, old
colleague
The berimbau is an instrument
That you only play on one string
It will play Sao Bento Grande
It plays Angola in a major key,
old colleague
Now I've come to believe
Old colleague, the berimbau is
the greatest
Long live my God
Chorus: le long live my God
Comrade

Beabd do herimbau
A cabaca e o caxixi
Colega velho tern um
pedago de pau
A tnoeda e o arame
Colega velho at estd o berimbau
Berimbau e um instrumento
Que voce toca numa corda sd
Vai tocar Sao Bento Grande
Colega velho toca Angola
em torn Maior
Agora eu acabei de crer
Colega velho, o berimbau e o maior
Viva meu deus
Chorus: le Viva meu deus Camard

Figure 25: Capoeira Ladainha "Beabd do Berimbau" (E Silva 1997-int)

J J
Eu

vou

ca - ba

mo - e

ler

be - a - ba

be - a - bk do be - run - bau

ca xi xi co - le - ga vei - ho lem pe - da - 50 de pan

da

ra - me

co - le - ga

vel - ho

ai

es - i

be - rim - bait

Transcription 14: "Beabd do Berimbau" (E Silva 1997-int)

no This word is possibly associated with the Portuguese word cartilha ("primer or spelling book").

150
Presented as a story to an old colleague, the "Beaba do Berimbau" introduces
the physical elements of the cabaga (gourd), caxixi (basket rattle), moeda (coin) and
arame (wire). The berimbau always plays its music in a major key, so it will be
something that will always bring happiness and positive energy to those who play it.
The references to pedago de pau (piece of wood), moeda, and arame suggest that
when three unrelated lifeless objects are joined together in this context, a
sophisticated musical instrument emerges. At the final moment of the ladainha, a
call and response section begins, which highlights an extended salutation to past
capoeira mestres, as well as spiritual and important symbolic references that pertain
to the practice and history of capoeira.
In "Melo do Berimbau," Berimbrown's adaptation of this song, the melody is
set to a quick-paced rhythmic tempo, contrasting with the lyrical free-flowing feel of
the original. "Melo do Berimbau" (see fig 26, trans 15 and CD track 13) also features
a melodic range that is more condensed than its predecessor. The melodic range of
"Beaba do Berimbau" moves from a fifth above to a fifth below the tonic, with a
resolution on the tonic, whereas "Meld do Berimbau" is centered on the tonic in a
pitched rhythmic rap-style delivery. This song begins on the tonic, briefly jumps up a
minor third, returns to the tonic, briefly moves down a Major second (to the seventh
scale tone), and concludes the phrase on the tonic.
Eu vou ler o beaba,
beabd do berimbau
A cabaga e o arame
e um bom pedago de pau
A moeda e o caxixi
ai estd o berimbau

I will read the alphabet,


alphabet of berimbau
The gourd and the string
and a good piece of wood
The coin and the caxixi,
there is the berimbau

151
Berimhau e um instrumento
tocado em uma corda so
Pra tocar Sao Bento Grande,
toca Angola em torn maior
Agora acabei de crer,
berimbau i o maior
Agora acabei de crer, ie - i - ie - ie

Berimbau is an instrument
that is played only on one string
To play Sao Bento Grande,
it plays Angola in a major key
Now I've come to believe,
the berimbau is the greatest
Now I've come to believe, ie - ie
- 16 - ie
Dance, dance, dance samba
reggae
Pastinha went to Africa,
angoleiro from Brazil
To show capoeira,
it expanded throughout the world
Water to drink, knife to cut,
lowlife to take down, comrade
Zum-zum-zum,
capoeira killed another one
Killed another one, they say,
yeah.

Dance, dance, dance samba-reggae


Pastinhafoi a Africa,
angoleiro do Brasil
Pra mostrar a capoeira,
pelo mundo se expandiu
Agua de beber,faca de furor,
mandinga de pegar, camard
Zum-zum-zum
capoeira matou mais um
Matou mais um, diz aipois e

Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown,


Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown,
Brown

Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown,


Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown,
Brown

Figure 26: "Meld do Berimbau" (Berimbrown 2000-disc)

0:14

j . 115

eu vou ler o be - a - tok be-a-ba do ber-im-bau a ca-ba-?a e/o a - ra-me/e um bom pe-da-90 de pau a moe-da e/o ca-xi-

ber-im-bau e um/irot-ru - men-to to-ca-do em/uraa cor-<ta s6 pra to-car Sao Ben-to

xi ai es-ta 0 be-rim-bau

,
Gran-de to-ca/An-go-la/eni torn mai-or

a-go-ra/a ca-bei de

crer

4_y
ber-im-bau i o

raai-or

Transcription 15: "Melo do Berimbau" (Berimbrown 2000-dlsc)

The lyrics are similar between these two songs, yet a few distinctions can be
made. Both songs begin with the same phrase, but in the second stanza, Berimbrown

152
adds the word "torn" to "pedago depau," signifying a "good" piece of wood, rather
than just a piece of wood.111 Note that the reference to the old colleague has been
omitted completely from this newer version. Perhaps this has been intentionally left
out so that the song will have more appeal to younger audiences. This omission also
enables a younger narrator to relate the events of this song, thus eliminating any
potential conflict of a younger mestre overstepping his boundaries of being outspoken
with an older (and more respected) mestre. The next discrepancy in the lyrics is that
"Meld do Berimbau" refers to the berimbau as an instrument that is "tocadd" (played)
on one string, as opposed to an instrument "que voci toca" (that you play). This
alteration in the lyrics reinforces Berimbrown as the messenger, and de-emphasizes
the listener as an apprentice who will learn how to convey these messages themselves
through disciplined practice. Berimbrown retains "Agora eu acabei de crerlberimbau
e o maior" (now I've come to believe), but they omit the beginning of the call and
response section, and reference to "Long live my God." Instead, they highlight "Now
I've come to believe," and place extra emphasis on the word "crer" (believe), and use
this as a point of departure to move on to portray images and quotations from other
sources. Although the omitted call-and-response section honors past masters and
makes reference to spiritual elements in relation to capoeira, elements of this function
can be seen in the subsequent stanzas, which construct a brief homage to a respected
mestre, Vicente Pastinha.
111

Cabaga and caxixi are interchanged between the two versions, but I see this as an incidental
variation. Also, the discrepancy between "Vai tocar Sao Bento Grande" ("it WILL play S&o Bento
Grande") and "Pra tocar Sao Bento Grande" ("in order TO play Sao Bento Grande") is subtle, but
both versions evoke similar meanings.

153
Through the process of blurring traditional and popular cultured boundaries,
this reference to mestre Pastinha is borrowed from Caetano Veloso's "Triste Bahia,"
a song described by Christopher Dunn (2001:167) as a historical collage in the form
of a "sonic quilt composed of heterogeneous musical and poetic fragments," with
temporal references from colonial Bahia to the present. Veloso's lyrics state
"Pastinha jdfoi a Africa I pra mostrar capoeira do Brasil" (Pastinha went to Africa /
to show capoeira of Brazil) (in Dunn 2001:167) referring to Pastinha's exhibition of
capoeira in 1966 at the International Black Arts Festival in Senegal.
Berimbrown updates this reference to demonstrate that Pastinha was not only
a capoeirista, or a Brazilian, but he was an "Angoleiro from Brazil," thus affirming
his connection to what is commonly perceived as a continuation of the most
"traditional" form of capoeira that exists today. Berimbrown also states that capoeira
is no longer an object of exhibition, but has instead become a respected art form that
is now practiced globally. Perhaps Berimbrown is consciously drawing upon the
popularity of Veloso's song that directly quotes one of Pastinha's ladainhas that
expresses disenchantment with the world: "I'm already fed up / with life here on
earth / oh mama, I'm going to the moon / together with my wife / we'll set up a little
ranch / made of straw thatch" (Pastinha in Dunn 2001:168). Berimbrown's use of
Veloso's material, is the first of many popular musical citations that have been
derived from traditional capoeira songs. This technique creates musical references
that can simultaneously relate to more than one source.

154
For example, one musical citation includes Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Agua de
Beber" (Water to Drink), which features rhythmic interjections between the lyrics, a
prominent berimbau Angola toque, and punctuated band chords responding to the
phrases of "Agua de beber and faca defurar." Another citation highlights a smoothly
harmonized "Zum-zum-zum capoeira matou mats um" a reference to the legendary
war cry of Besouro that is discussed in chapter two.
At the end of "Melo do Berimbau," a traditional capoeira ensemble supplants
the popular music instrumentation, and the song concludes with the well-known
capoeira song, "Parana 6 Parana 6 Parana."112 This song is presented as if it were a
supplemental field recording that was added to the material produced in the recording
studio, perhaps an attempt to add authenticity and demonstrate that members of
Berimbrown know how to play traditional capoeira music.

The Berimbau and Electronic Dance Music


Non-Brazilian musical elements, including the use of English in naming song
musical ensembles, become prevalent in Brazilian electronic dance music. In the
following musical examples from Sao Paulo-based ensembles, the berimbau has been
sampled, filtered and re-mixed with contrasting results.

112

See Almeida (1986:88) for an example of improvised verses in this song.

155
M4J: "Capoeira" (Sample of "Clementina")
M4J is a Sao Paulo-based electronic music ensemble that promotes sampling
of rhythms and sounds from Brazilian folklore and incorporates these elements into
drum n'bass influenced electronic music."3 Their album Electronic Experience (M4J
1998-disc), titled in English, features two works that have samples of berimbau
music. One track entitled "Intro 16 A" is very similar to the Pat Metheney and Lyle
Mays recording "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls"(Metheney 1980-disc), a
soundscape that prominently features the berimbau and percussion of Nana
Vasconcelos. M4J's track exhibits lush meandering major seventh synthesized
orchestral string chords and a high-pitched meandering melody, which are
rhythmically supported by berimbau and percussion. The concept of mixing
electronic music with Brazilian percussion was a strong component of the
Metheney/Vasconcelos projects, which could have served as an inspiration for M4J's
works as well.
M4J's "Capoeira" is based upon a sampled loop of the Nana Vasconcelos
composition, "Clementina," which was homage to the singer Clementina de Jesus.
"Clementina" appears on Storytelling (Vasconcelos 1995-disc), a collection of works
that Vasconcelos envisioned as a journey through time and space. He has constructed
these soundscapes by drawing upon sounds found throughout Northeastern Brazil as
well as personal life experiences.

113

Drum n' bass is electronic dance music that originated in England,

156
"Clementina" begins with Vasconcelos laughing, followed by a samba de
roda-styh rhythmic cell, comprised of berimbau, clay drum, handclaps, cavaquinho
(small four-string guitar), voice, and a brief saxophone interjection (see trans 16 and
CD track 14).
0:08
Burimbau

4-

Handclaps

Clay Drum?

LL_/

Transcription 16: "Clementina" (Vasconcelos 1995-disc)

The first four measures of this piece demonstrate multiple levels of cyclical
rhythmic phrases that combine to create a smooth flowing unified rhythmic groove.
Although each voice in this rhythmic cell maintains its own identity, the base pattern
is established over the course of four measures. For example, the berimbau
establishes a motif in the first two measure phrase, repeats it in the second two
measure phrase, and the third and fourth phrases are subtle variations of the initial
motif. This rhythmic base supports Vasconcelos's short melody that reinforces the
samba de roda imagery (see fig 27 and CD track 14):

157
Clementina vem chegando
Clementina vem de samba
E a gente bate palma
Clementina vai cantar
Clementina vem chegando
Clementina vem de samba
E a gente abra a roda
Clementina vai dangar

Clementina is coming
Clementina comes from samba
And people clap their hands
Clementina will sing
Clementina is coming
Clementina comes from samba
And people open the circle
Clementina will dance

Figure 27: "Clementina" lyrics (Vasconcelos 1995-disc)

This is followed with a wordless lilting melody and multiple vocal overdubs
that accentuate various kinds of rhythmic counterpoint. The piece effortlessly weaves
between the melody and rhythmic counterpoint. Although multiple overlapping
melodic and rhythmic phrases occur in this composition, they are all distinct phrases
that occur in shorter and longer cycles. Since the length of each succession of events
varies, the overall effect suggests a natural ebb and flow.
M4J's "Capoeira" begins with a sampled loop of "Clementina's" third and
fourth measures. The tempo and pitch are increased, and the overall feeling of this
groove becomes static. Rather than a relaxed organic samba de roda, the M4J work
is mechanical, and creates quite a contrast to the original work. A brief look at the
first few measures of "Clementina" demonstrates how each of the three voicesberimbau, handclaps and drummaintains their individual identities. No two
measures feature a static rhythm that is exactly the same, but these motifs create brief
phrases that are repeated in larger fragments. In the M4J sample, a cross-section of
this interactive rhythmic groove is extracted, and although this rhythmic cell is
technically an exact replica, the new version becomes a static one-dimensional
mechanical entity. This is also due in part to an increased tempo, and

158
homogenization of the independent voices. For example, in "Clementina," there are
two distinct layers of handclapping, suggesting interactive participation among
musicians. As a result of the sound processing in "Capoeira," the handclapping
sounds more like a generic electronic handclapping preset sound (see trans 17 and CD
track 15).

-J-

-j-

Berimbau

0 f

Handclaps

0\

Clay Drum?

Bass

Tamborim

Transcription 17: "Capoeira" (M4J 1998-disc)

The following discussion among M4J band members suggests contrasting


perceptions of the berimbau's significance in Brazilian society. Although they
recognize the berimbau's unique sound, there is disagreement among band members
about how this sound is produced. This suggests that they perceive the berimbau as
an exotic instrument that possesses mysterious qualities. They draw upon this
mystique as a means to incorporate a distinct Brazilian identity in a globalized
electronic music marketplace.
M4J band member Franco Jiinior believes that Afro-Brazilian music is
composed of rhythmic characteristics that are represented by the identities of

159
particular musical instruments. Speaking of the berimbau within this context, he
believes that it produces a specific rhythmic and sound environment that is only
found with the berimbau. He notes "no other thing in the world does it... so it's
something unique" (Junior in Vanni 2001-int). Junior expands this notion to the use
of Afro-Brazilian musical instruments in Brazilian musical culture.
I don't think it's only berimbau, but everything that's folklore in Brazil has a
very big cargo of rhythms, and swings that are from the black people, so
everything that's done popularly in Brazilthe congadas, sambaall this type
of thing, the instruments that are used are very rich instruments in rhythm.
(Junior in Vanni 2001-int)
Here Junior associates the berimbau with a larger generic context of African-derived
folkloric expression in Brazil as an exoticized "other." He believes that an essential
element of this "otherness" includes the actual musical instruments. Junior sees the
berimbau as a common household instrument in Sao Paulo: "It's difficult to find a
house that doesn't have a berimbau, because [it's so common]. But to find someone
who knows how to really play the berimbau is rare. There's all of the technique"
(Junior in Vanni 2001-int). This comment demonstrates a perception of the berimbau
as a ubiquitous musical instrument, but he suggests that there are precious few gifted
musicians who have worked with the berimbau to bring it to a level of a culturally
refined instrument.
M4J band member Manoel Vanni disputes Junior's comments that berimbau
technique is difficult. Vanni's exposure to the berimbau followed three general paths:
as a tourist to Bahia, as a capoeira apprentice, and as a classically trained musician.
As a young boy Vanni went to Bahia, purchased a berimbau and received musical

160
instruction from a Bahian musician. "I bought it as a tourist. And after that I was
crazy about the berimbau" (Vanni 2001-int). The musical instrument that Vanni
referenced was a small tourist berimbau that is specifically designed for children.
Although he played with this instrument, he makes a distinction between his model
and a full-size berimbau used within capoeira circles.
I was a young boy, picking up a small berimbau..., and I learned how to play
[brincaf] with it, play [Wear] it directly.... [Now,] if you take a berimbau of
capoeira, for example in my case, I don't know how to pick up a berimbau of
that size, with a huge cabaga there, with the hand, in a certain way, secure the
berimbau, because it has a weight, it has a certain way to mess with the stone
there, etc (Vanni 2001-int).
While Vanni discounts Junior's comments, he also affords a certain degree of respect
towards berimbau musicians. Although Vanni has not practiced capoeira for at least
twenty years, he believes that if he practiced for two hours, he would be able to play
the berimbau again. Speaking of berimbau technique, he says "it's not so mysterious.
It's more of a question of instinct, of feeling that you have, and the musical sound that
you would like to take out [resides] within the instrument" (Vanni 2001-int). Vanni's
experience with capoeira has led him to believe that the berimbau functions musically
as a bass that bridges the rhythmic motifs of the atabaque (single head conical drum)
and the pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine).
As a musician, Vanni saw additional possibilities for music that could
accompany capoeira. He laments that he "never had the opportunity to participate in
a roda de capoeira with a band playing" (Vanni 2001-int). As a result of his
exposure to Afro-Brazilian music and culture, he began to explore possibilities of
folkloric sounds in new contexts. He describes this as an exploration of "Africana

161
roots" of Brazilian popular music, but more specifically, "Brazilianized Africana,
and... these types of Brazilian sounds inspired us to [launch the idea] of M4J" (Vanni
2001-int). This approach enabled the band to explore a broad perspective of sounds
that would reflect a notion of Brazilian identity without restricting the group to the
confines of specific musical genres that might be encountered in an "authentically
Brazilian band" (Vanni 2001-int),
Vanni and M4J have been inspired and influenced by a broad range of music
including late 1960s North American rock & roll, which they define as music that
was created with artistic integrity, as opposed to a commodity constructed purely for
commercial gain. Within the world of electronic music, musician Walter Carlos's
album Switched on Bach and projects by the German electronic music ensemble
Kraftwerk influenced Vanni and M4J. This broad range of non-Brazilian musical
influences demonstrates that there has been a clear shift away from threats of North
American cultural imperialism similar to what Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil
experienced in the 1960s. Since M4J has incorporated a diverse combination of
Brazilian and non-Brazilian musical influences into their music, it is clear that they
are attempting to synthesize global cultural expressions and adapt them to create a
homogenized sound environment that affords a priority to Brazilian sounds.
Another influence for M4J was Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos's
collaboration with North American mainstream jazz musician Pat Metheney in the
1980s. This may have served as their model for integrating Brazilian musical timbres
into non-Brazilian musical genres. When Vanni heard Vasconcelos's work with

162
Metheney, he began to search for Vasconcelos's solo recordings, which led him to the
song "Clementina." Vanni liked the diverse collection of sounds, and decided to
incorporate it into one of M4J's projects. His initial compositional efforts of
sampling and creating musical loops were successful, so he was inspired to continue
with the objective of "experimenting," "slicing" and "imagining" without a predetermined result (Vanni 2001 -int). Although M4J initially focused on Nana
Vasconcelos, they were not interested in studying him as a musician. They began by
focusing on the "musical sonority" of the berimbau's rhythm and as a result of that
process, they discovered that the best way to study the berimbau was to study
Vasconcelos's musicianship. Junior recalls, "we encountered the [road to] the
berimbau through Nana" (Junior in Vanni 2001-int). This work also provided M4J
with a means to explore new directions in dance music, thus enabling them to
promote themselves as a distinctly Brazilian electronic music dance ensemble.
When M4J features the piece "Capoeira" during live performances, the group
uses eight channels of sequenced music as basic tracks, and they improvise live music
on top of those pre-recorded tracks. The berimbau sample remains present and
unaltered in all performances, since the work has been constructed upon the sample
from Vasconcelos's recording. Due to the quick tempo and unaltered short melodicrhythmic musical fragment of the berimbau passage in this work, Vanni believes that
it is imperative to use a pre-recorded looped berimbau sample, rather than incorporate
a live berimbau musician. He is convinced that for performance purposes in the

163
electronic dance music context, the berimbau sample "is much better than if it was
played live" (Vanni 2001 -int).

Ram Science: "Berimbaus"


Ramilson Maia is a DJ and electronic music specialist from Bahia who now
lives in Sao Paulo. In 1992, Maia began to develop his style constructed upon a base
of Brazilian music, exploring concepts of techno and drum n'bass electronic dance
musical styles from European musicians, and incorporating components of Brazilian
music into his mix. He states: "I took a house beat of bass and snare drum, and
[added] the sonorities of cuica (friction drum) and berimbau, and with these things I
told another story" (Maia 2001-int). He believes that this was the basis of developing
his individual style, as the press began to take notice of his work. "They said 'Wow!
This guy is doing techno with cuica. He does some house with berimbau. What
crazy thing is this?'" (Maia 2001-int).
Maia's experiments offer an alternative perspective of berimbau sound
processing to that of M4J. The manner in which he manipulates the berimbau's
sound production transforms the character of the instrument into multiple entities of
berimbau personalities that do not primarily serve as a rhythmic base, but instead
engage in a multi-tiered call and response conversation.
Maia suggests that Sao Paulo is a physical location in which many diverse
cultural elements can be blended, and for him, electronic music is the ideal vehicle
that can be used to incorporate a vast array of cultural elements. The uniqueness of

164
Sao Paulo is somewhat similar to New York City in that it is a large sprawling urban
environment, one of the country's centers for the music recording industry, and a
desirable location for musicians and artists from other regions.114
He believes that regional distinctions can reinforce a local ideal as well as
serve as unique elements that can be mixed together in urban musical centers, such as
Sao Paulo. "I bought a lot of folklore recordings, from the northeast, I have
collections of diverse things. Because in Brazil, each place has a unique rhythm that
will drive you crazy" (Maia 2001-int). Moreover, the mystique of regional elements
can spur public interest in an artist's work, in which people question where a
particular musical element was obtained, or where its sound can be purchased. Maia
explains: "The guys in the south don't know what the berimbau is, and if you go to
Bahia, everything is berimbau.... It's a crazy story. If you go to the Amazon it's
another story, if you go to Maranhao, it's another conversation" (Maia 2001-int).
In addition to his use of regional Brazilian musical elements, Maia is also
drawing from 1970s Brazilian-derived samba rock music for his current
compositions. Through this process, he believes that he is translating the "concept of
the '70s into the language of today for the youth" (Maia 2001-int). In this regard,
Maia believes that he is functioning as a cultural interpreter, sifting and filtering
information into contemporary sound environments that will appeal to young

114

For example, Dinho Nascimcnto and Ramilson Maia are both Bahians who have moved to Sao
Paulo. Although the group Berimbrown is based in Minas Gerais, it often travels to Sao Paulo for
appearances on television shows and at large-venue concerts.

165
Brazilian consumers, as well as international consumers interested in Brazilianinfluenced electronic dance music.
The work "Berimbaus" is constructed from a variety of filtered electronic
berimbau samples and other sound sources that represent isolated brief fragments
evocative of a futuristic berimbau ensemble. This piece begins with an even eighthnote closed hi-hat rhythm and alternating low to high synthesized chords, interspersed
with sporadic berimbau commentary (see trans 18A and CD track 16). After a steady
drum n'bass groove enters, the berimbau propels the groove with a driving rhythm
based upon the initial motif (trans 18B). The next section features a low bass line,
which accompanies the established rhythms for the other voices, and could be
interpreted as yet another berimbau (trans 18C). The final section of new material
appears as a four-measure phrase, approximating a skeletal fragment of the capoeira
toque, luna (trans 18D). The remainder of the piece features various combinations of
the preceding sections, including subtraction and addition of instrumental layers to
provide contrast to the overall texture.
Music critic Marcelo Negromonte describes Maia's album Electronic
Experience (2000) as a work that explores more than the musical frontiers of
Brazilian electronic music. He describes it as "music without stagnation, rich in
textures that converge on the fringe." He portrays "Berimbaus" as a type of
"berimbau antropofdgico" (cannabilistic berimbau) in which the multiple layers of

166

A
0:06

B
0:55

fl-e-

i nu ni

Synthesized
Percussion

L-J

tILJ C_1LJ

Synthesizer

jfy (!

c
1:12

JTnJ j

J J1J J

L-J
FT^

L-J
J J

J J

D
1:56

1 hi J

J Ji'J'J J >n>i >nJ i i J J

J J1J J

J >HTJ

m
Transcription 18: "Berimbaus" (Ram Science 1999-disc)

167
modified berimbau samples are rapidly consuming each other and mutating into new
sonorous entities (Negromonte 2000).U5
Maia developed "Berimbaus" through an extended process, which began by
listening to recordings of capoeira music from Bahia.
In that era, I had done a lot of research ... and I received a recording of
Brazilian music from one of my friends, and I began to listen to the recordings
from Bahia with berimbaus, etc... I began to sample things that I thought
would make good samples [such as the berimbau] (Maia 2001-int).
Maia's first experiment with Brazilian timbres mixed with house music was
with the cuka, and his second was with the berimbau. He believes that the rhythmic
and melodic identity of each instrument will lead the direction in which it is adapted
within the context of electronic music. He says that "the berimbau is very free, so it
needs to be separated and worked with [to] make a groove....[It is then] filtered to
enter into the electronic context" (Maia 2001-int).
The initial reaction to Maia's experiments by Brazilian DJs was mixed, since
adaptation of DJ aesthetics in Brazil was focused on the sounds that were emanating
from European music cultures. Commenting on this, Maia states: "they hadn't heard
the sounds with the berimbau, and they thought that it was kind of strange ... and
then [some person] in Europe began to do things, and people thought that it was cool"
(Maia 2001-int). In this sense, Maia makes his musical experience "very personal,"
and visibly intercultural.

115

This is most likely derived from concepts associated with Brazilian modernist Oswald de
Andrade's Manifesto Antropofdgo (Cannibal Manifesto) and the idea of Brazilian culture as a digestion
of various cultural sources, discussed in chapter one,

168
Although he is not attempting to create an exoticized product specifically
designed for non-Brazilians to consume in the global marketplace, he is interested in
introducing non-Brazilians to Brazilian sounds by drawing upon distinctly
identifiable "Brazilian timbres" that are representative of his Brazilian and Bahian
heritage. "What I want to bring to these people is for them to listen to these timbres,
and have them think 'wow, where is that from?' And there are people who don't
understand what it is, and they come to know what it is" (Maia 2001-int). Maia's use
of these sounds is intended to get people to stop and think about the beauty of
distinctly Brazilian musical sound sources. Through this process, he believes that
they will gain an enhanced appreciation for their country's rich musical heritage.

Conclusion
In this chapter, the berimbau has moved into a new realm of identity
representation from that of Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil. The case of Berimbrown
demonstrates that the berimbau is a powerful symbol of urban black youth culture.
When it is merged with the concept of James Brown, it makes a connection not only
with African diasporic cultures of the Caribbean, as seen in the fusion of samba
reggae, but also with African American music cultures of the United States.
The berimbau has also served as a focal point for defining notions of
Brazilianness in contemporary electronic dance music. Ramilson Maia and M4J
sample, process, and repackage sounds as a means to translate folkloric sound sources
into fresh new sounds that will appeal to younger consumers. Although capoeira and

169
its music can represent a folkloric entity of the past, recent uses of the berimbau
demonstrate that it is part of a broad spectrum of musical expression that is helping to
define cutting-edge musical trends. Contemporary popular music may draw from
capoeira, but in each of these examples, the berimbau is filtered, either physically or
metaphorically, thus helping to establish a multivocal present. In the case of
Berimbrown, African American fashion styles from the 1960s through the 1990s
coexist on the same stage at the same time, directly or idealistically corresponding
with band and audience members' lived experiences.
Chapter four moves beyond the realm of the berimbau being used within a
popular musical ensemble, and focuses on the emergence of the berimbau specialist.
By looking closely at three berimbau musiciansNana Vasconcelos, Dinho
Nascimento, and Ramiro Musottoa new type of identity emerges, that of
professional identity. This professional identity provides each of these musicians
with a focal center, thus enabling them to portray themselves as berimbau virtuosos.

170

Chapter Four
Three Perspectives on the Berimhau's Development
as a Solo Instrument

This chapter highlights the berimbau's development as a solo instrument in


the genre of popular music from the early 1970s to the present through the work of
three individual berimbau artists; Nana" Vasconcelos, Dinho Nascimento, and Ramiro
Musotto. I select these three musicians as they each offer unique contributions to
berimbau musicianship. Although many prominent Brazilian percussionists such as
Airto Moreira, Papete, Dom um Romao, Guilherme Franco, Paulinho da Costa,
Djalma Correa and many others have recorded extensively with the berimbau, thenrecordings tend to remain framed within a narrowly-defined vision of capoeira
berimbau toques. In contrast, Vasconcelos, Nascimento and Musotto each present
creative instrumental approaches that propel the berimbau's movement into featured,
as opposed to supporting, performance roles.
Nana Vasconcelos is an internationally renowned berimbau musician from
Recife, Pernambuco. His musical endeavors have been the source of documentary
films by Talbot (1971-vid) and Grosset (1990-vid). While Vasconcelos has become
internationally recognized as a berimbau musician, he has approached the berimbau
as an outsider to the capoeira tradition, which is clearly visible through observation of
his presentation of capoeira songs and berimbau toques in Talbot's (1971-vid)

171
documentary film. Had Vasconcelos been immersed in the capoeira tradition, he may
not have developed his unique styles of berimbau improvisations.
Dinho Nascimento is a musician and capoeira practitioner from Salvador,
Bahia. He has developed alternative techniques for playing the berimbau, most
notably the "blues berimbau," which is a combination of berimbau tradition and
Nascimento's interpretation of North American blues music. In contrast to
Vasconcelos's background, Nascimento has developed his musical style as an
individual who has informally learned capoeira on the streets of Salvador, and has
created innovative musical techniques and ideas that have challenged both capoeira
practitioners and record producers.
Ramiro Musotto is a percussionist from Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Initially
inspired by Vasconcelos's recordings, Musotto moved to Brazil in the early 1980s to
formally study the berimbau. He has since become established as a formidable
berimbau musician who is well known for creating multiple layered berimbau
arrangements and experimenting with electronic sampling and sequencing in a broad
range of Brazilian popular music contexts. During Musotto's berimbau
apprenticeship, he moved to the heart of Salvador, Bahia, where he learned
fundamental aspects of berimbau performance practices within the capoeira tradition.
Therefore, his progressive multiple berimbau popular music arrangements are steeped
in fundamentals that are derived from musical aesthetics that emerge from capoeira.
While Vasconcelos represents the pioneering generation of virtuoso berimbau
soloists in popular music, Nascimento and Musotto demonstrate how they each have

172
been influenced by Vasconcelos, while producing their own unique contributions that
are derived from their own personal experiences and musicality. As the berimbau has
moved farther into global popular musics, new performance techniques and
organological development have affected the berimbau's physical presence as well as
timbral and melodic characteristics. Vasconcelos and other Brazilian berimbau
musicians traveled to various parts of the world in the 1970s thus influencing a broad
range of percussionists in Turkey, Japan, and Italy, who in turn have freely developed
innovations in berimbau performance practice without knowledge of cultural
aesthetics from capoeira's musical traditions.116

Nana Vasconcelos
Nana Vasconcelos (b. 1944) has earned respect throughout the world as an
innovative musician. He is perhaps most well known for his use of the berimbau,
prominently featured in a contrasting variety of musical genres.117 One of
Vasconcelos's main achievements was to gain popularity through his use of the
berimbau as a solo instrument, used in international jazz contexts-thus distancing it
from the capoeira tradition. Vasconcelos's berimbau work has been acknowledged in
numerous individual entries in popular music encyclopedias and interviews in
newspapers and music publications.118

116

See Graham and Robinson (2003), The berimbau is also currently being disseminated through a
global expansion of capoeira.
117
Due to Vasconcelos's international prominence, this section will be developed in more detail than
Nascirnento or Musotto.
118
See Cook and Morton (2000) and Hovan (2000).

173
Vasconcelos began performing at age twelve, as a percussionist in the city of
Recife's military band, in Northeastern Brazil. He later became a regular participant
of Sitio Novo, a neighborhood escola de samba, where he was able to compare and
contrast snare drum technique and musicality with the military band. He was also a
drumset musician for the band Bossanorte, in which he explored a vast array of
metric and polyrhythmic combinations. He suggests that his knowledge of Africanderived religious drumming traditions from his family's involvement in candomble
helped him interpret and perform odd-meter jazz songs such as Dave Brubek's "Take
Five" (Jeske 1982:52).
Vasconcelos later studied other Brazilian percussion instruments including the
tumbadora (conga drum) and the berimbau. Although Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil
had helped to nationally popularize the berimbau since the mid to late 1960s, a
newspaper article from the early 1970s reinforced its strong continued connection to
Bahian folklore, by describing it as "an instrument that is even today used only in the
Bahian games of capoeira" (Vinicius 1973). Vasconcelos often refers to the
berimbau as a prominent source of his musical expression and development of his
ideas: "the berimbau was very important for the way I developed... I discovered that
everything was there in the berimbau" (Vasconcelos in Robinson 2000).
Vasconcelos learned how to play the berimbau for a capoeira section featured
in a play called Memoria dos Cantadores (Memory of the Singers), a project that was
designed to demonstrate the richness of Brazilian culture. He later saw that the
berimbau could move beyond the rhythmic and metric context of capoeira, and began

174
to incorporate ideas inspired from candombli dramming rhythms, which led to his
development of the berimbau's use outside of the capoeira context.
Vasconcelos was well aware of potential negative reactions from capoeira
traditionalists regarding this type of experimentation. He admits that he was "very
scared" to play his new berimbau style in public "because I thought they were going
to say I was damaging the tradition" (Vasconcelos in Robinson 2000). This is
precisely the same type of anxiety that Gilberto Gil experienced when he composed
"Domingo no Parque." Another example of the ramifications of this type of
traditionalist rejection can be seen in conflicts related to Baden Powell's composition
of "Lapinha."119 As a resolution to this dilemma, Vasconcelos drew inspiration from
eclectic avant-garde musician and composer Hermeto Pascoal's nontraditional uses of
percussion and household objects to create new timbres and sounds.
It may be interesting to note that Vasconcelos spent time exclusively
practicing the berimbau because he was unable to practice the drumset in his
apartment. As a result, he began to take musical ideas that he had developed for use
on the drumset, and transposed them for the berimbau.
I realized that the hand position I had on the berimbau [corresponded to the]
drumset. The left hand is the snare, and the right hand is the cymbal. I had
the same situation here on berimbau. So I used to practice on the berimbau,
and then transpose for the drumset, or for any instrument,.. [The] berimbau
was the main thing for that; it opened me to see sounds as music; to see noise
as music. (Vasconcelos in Robinson 2000)
Vasconcelos's explorations of berimbau timbres utilize effects derived from
nearly every inch of the bow, string, gourd, coin/stone, and combinations of the
Both "Lapinha" and "Domingo no Parque" arc discussed in chapter two.

175

above.120 He also began to derive additional pitched notes, by simultaneously striking


and pressing the stick against the string at different points. Brazilian music critic
Marcus Vinicius (1973) noted that Vasconcelos could "even obtain a harmonic scale.
This, for an instrument that only possessed two notes was a lot." Observations
supported in the Brazilian press suggested that Vasconcelos was a true innovator of
tradition, and perhaps this afforded some space that enabled him to develop additional
extended techniques and move the berimbau farther from its well-known folkloric
context:
Now, with the entirely disfigured sound of capoeira the berimbau assumed
more ample dimensions in Nana's hands: it stopped being a purely rhythmic
instrument and began to be melodic, or better, melodic in the sense of
"klangfarbenmelodie" a melody of timbres in contemporary music (Vinicius
1973).
His experiments with the berimbau were described as timbral melodies, suggesting
that Vasconcelos was able to move from rhythms to rhythmic melodies.'21 Since
some music critics were unable to describe Vasconcelos's work with conventional
music terminology, they resorted to new forms of description. One example draws
connections to linguistic syntax, in which Vasconcelos's improvisations are perceived
to construct '"sound ideograms...' Even the syllables are syntheses. There is an
organicity, an organized onomatopoeic system, a syntax. It is political, it has
spirituality (but not religion)" (Dias 2001).

120

Vasconcelos also developed a manner of securing the gourd to the bow in order to avoid accidental
movement of the tuning loop that would affect the desired pitch (Graham and Robinson 2003).
121
Perhaps another undertone to this statement is the superficial notion that African rhythm joined
with European melodies in Brazil's cultural mixing process. In this light, Vasconcelos would therefore
be transforming the African-only musical bow into a culturally enhanced musical bow that could now
play melodies.

176
Perhaps one component of Vasconcelos's success is the exoticism that
surrounds the berimbau beyond Brazilian borders. He is quite cognizant of nonBrazilian audience curiosity of the berimbau:
when they go to the theater and see me playing that piece of wood, a gourd
and a string, they're impressed. Nobody knows what will come out of this,
but it has a visual aspect, and it tells a story. This is gratifying because it
demonstrates that music can say a lot with simple things (Vasconcelos in
Rocha 2000).
Vasconcelos realized that the berimbau would give him an immediate identity since
North Americans were extremely interested in its sounds as well as its shape. In the
early 1970s, he recalls that the only associations that North American musicians and
audiences could make with the berimbau were primitive assumptions.
They used to call me Jungle man because they thought the berimbau was from
the jungle, the Amazon. Also, for example, in the middle of concerts, I'd do a
solo for berimbau and I realized it didn't look like anything they'd seen
played before. (Vasconcelos in Diliberto and Haas 1990:41).
Exotic aspects of the berimbau continued to fascinate North American music critics
into the 1980s, with descriptions of the berimbau as "a Brazilian folk instrument that
resembles an archer's bow stuck onto an Edam cheese" (Jeske 1982:52).
Vasconcelos most likely capitalized on audience assumptions of primitiveness that
dramatically enhanced his musically and rhythmically dense performance approach. I
imagine notions of primitiveness quickly turned to curiosity when Vasconcelos began
to construct and repeat fluid melodic rhythmic phrases, thus suggesting a
sophisticated and developed musical instrument.'22

122

Vasconcelos also incorporated elements of theatrical presentation into his performances.


Ethnomusicologist John Galm recalls an early 1980s berimbau solo when Vasconcelos was on tour

177
Vasconcelos's adaptation of the capoeira tradition into a contemporary jazz
context is demonstrated in the way he sings a popular capoeira song, "Ai ai aide" in
the documentary film Berimbau (Talbot 1971-vid). In the traditional version of this
song, the choral response is clearly sung in a major key, with the final note being
reinforced by the major third and fifth of the chord (see top two stanzas of trans 19
and CD track 17). In contrast, Vasconcelos substitutes a minor third for the final note
of "Aide" for the traditional major third (see bottom stanza of trans 19 and CD track
18). Moreover, if one takes the pitch of Vasconcelos's berimbau into consideration,
the berimbau could alter this harmonic perspective. Apparently Vasconcelos tunes
his berimbau to an F, thus transposing his interpretation of "Ai ai aide" from c minor,
to F major with a flatted 7th. Therefore the e flat changes in function from a minor
third to a lowered seventh (e flat). Vasconcelos's harmonic adaptation suggests that
he is transposing this melodic material towards the style of the Northeastern violeiro
(rural troubadour singing guitarist) tradition.

Capoeira
Leader
Ai - Ai

Ai -

m
Jo-go

bo - ni - to/eu

quer

Capoelra
Chorus
Ai

Ai

Ai

Ai

Ai

Ai -

Ai

Ai

Ai-d

Vasconcelos
Jo - ga bo - ni~to/eu que-ro

a-pren -

Transcription 19: "Ai Ai Aidl" capoeim song and Vasconcelos Variation (Grupo de Capoeira
Angola Pelourinho 19%-disc and Talbot 1971-vid)
with Pal Metheny. During the solo, Vasconcelos leaped from the stage, across the orchestra pit and
hopped along the backs of the audiences' seats, and returned to the stage, all without missing a beat (J
Galrn 2003-int).

178

An interesting aspect of Vasconcelos's presentation of traditional capoeira material is


that he refrains from using the repique (indeterminate buzz sound effect), which
D'Anunciacao (1990a) identifies as a fundamental aspect of berimbau musical
aesthetics within the tradition. Moreover, during this presentation, he plays the
motive with little or no variation on the berimbau, thus demonstrating a simplified
version of capoeira berimbau toques (see trans 5 in chapter two). In the second part
of the documentary video, Vasconcelos highlights how he has developed berimbau
performance practice beyond the traditional context, which is much more
rhythmically dense. In essence, he has reduced the musical density of the traditional
context to accentuate the contrast with his innovations. However, had he developed
the capoeira toques with the motive and subsequent variations, the contrast between
these two styles would have been less pronounced.123
Some of Vasconcelos's innovative performance techniques include a fingercontrolled bounce stroke that enables him to consistently play quickly repeated stick
strokes against the string, suggesting that he is playing at more than twice the speed
of a berimbau musician within the context of capoeira. He then alternates the stick
strokes with quick stone or coin counterstrokes which double the speed once again.
This performance technique is markedly different from berimbau performance
practice within capoeira, where most berimbau stick strokes are played with a large
arm motion, perhaps as a means to produce the most volume in an acoustic setting.

123

Vasconcelos is clearly a talented musician, and this point is merely an observation of how
traditional and contemporary material is presented side-by-side.

179
Other techniques that Vasconcelos is credited with developing include
plucking and muting the string with the fingers, scraping and playing the bow and
gourd with the stick, and changing the angle of the stone contact point on the string,
thus yielding more than one raised fundamental pitch. Vasconcelos also developed
an enhanced role for the caxixi, which consisted of establishing a rhythmic ostinato,
while "the fingers of the same hand played different accents on the string with the
stick" (Graham and Robinson 2003).
Vasconcelos develops his berimbau improvisations in two distinct ways.
First, he begins with a single melodic-rhythmic motif, and with subtle variations he
maintains the overall character of the rhythmic cell, while modifying the internal
space with subtle changes. m Second, he develops his musical ideas by mixing and
contrasting various timbres and several regional Brazilian rhythmic sound sources,
such as the baido, samba and maracatu (see trans 20 and CD track 19).
10:57

Berimbau
11-15
(2:56)
Maracatu

11:21
(3:02)
Samba B

11:32

(3:13)
Transition 3

Transcription 20: Nana Vasconcelos Rhythmic Ideas with the Berimbau (Vasconcelos 1980-disc)

124

For an example of how Vasconcelos subtly modifies a single rhythmic example played on the
berimbau, see trans 16 in chapter three.

180
Vasconcelos has repeatedly acknowledged North American guitarist Jimi
Hendrix's innovative experiments with the electric guitar and Brazilian composer
Heitor Villa-Lobos's symphonic treatment of Northeastern Brazilian folk music as
two influences that have dramatically shaped his musical style. He cites Hendrix as a
musician who demonstrated that musical instruments do not need to be restricted to
their original contexts, and Villa-Lobos as a composer who provided new contexts
and soundscape for popular folk melodies (Dunn 1996).
In the mid-1970s, Vasconcelos began a fruitful working relationship with
classically trained guitarist and composer Egberto Gismonti. At that time,
Vasconcelos was living in Paris, and Gismonti traveled there to purchase a custommade eight-string guitar. Gismonti was on his way to record an ECM album in Oslo,
Norway, when he learned that his band members had been detained in Brazil since
they were not able to provide a financial deposit to the Brazilian government in order
to guarantee their return to Brazil. Gismonti invited Vasconcelos to record on the
album as a final effort to preserve the session. The musical union between the two
was an immediate success. Vasconcelos recalls the valuable contribution and diverse
background that each musician provided to this collaboration:
When he started to play with me, because of my instrumentation and sounds,
the Afro-Brazilian element was in his music for the first time. Egberto was
coming from a schooled concept; he went to the conservatory in Vienna to be
a classical musician. I come from the street so I brought those elements to his
music. We both realized, how that was so different, but at the same time it was
together, because of the way we think. (Vasconcelos in Robinson 2000)
Vasconcelos's notion of the separation of European art music tradition from Africanderived rhythmic concepts draws attention to frequent debates about musical

181
competence between classically-trained and popular musicians. There is similar
friction between North American jazz and classical musicians.
Vasconcelos has headlined a series of solo albums that feature a broad
spectrum of the percussionist's capabilities. Commenting about his albums,
Vasconcelos states, "my records ... have never gone out of print, because they are
documents, they are not part of any movement or style" (Rocha 2000). m One of
Vasconcelos's most successful solo albums, Saudades, features Gismonti as a guest
artist and provides additional documentation of the duo's collaborative efforts. The
opening track on this album, "O Berimbau" was composed by Vasconcelos and
arranged by Gismonti. This piece was performed by members of the Radio
Symphony Orchestra of Stuttgart, conducted by Mladen Gutesha. This eighteenminute work features three extended berimbau solos with two string interludes that
provide contrasting lush string and agitated chromatic textures.126
Critical acclaim of this work has been mixed, and generally discusses
expectations of Vasconcelos's percussive abilities as well as the integration of the
orchestral passages. Vasconcelos believes that the recording process may have been
rushed due to the orchestral musicians' "curiosity" in hearing the final results
(Vasconcelos in Rocha 2000). Descriptions by North American music critics echoed
these sentiments, and questioned the most productive way to make
Vasconcelos's intensely rhythmic but rather specialized music accessible to a
Western audience. Saudades is, alas, not the solution ... the album places him
125

Some of Vasconcelos's recordings have remained in print, some have been re-issued (i.e.
Ajricadeus), and others remain out of print (i.e. Amazonas),
126
Musical transcription 18 has been derived from the second extended solo section of this work.

182
in highly chromatic string-settings, which are utterly European in conception.
(Cook and Morton 2000:1505).
Since North American journalists have written these critiques, I raise questions
regarding their impressions of how Eurocentric orchestral string aesthetics should be
incorporated with the African-derived berimbau. Are they suggesting that it would
have been more appropriate for Gismonti to draw upon lush quotes from Wagnerian
romanticism, or the rhythmic agitation in the style of Beethoven? Is it incorrect to
assume that the African-derived berimbau is incompatible with European
contemporary music?127 Perhaps if the string arrangement had accentuated
"primitive" assumptions that accommodated audience expectations, Western critics
might have come to a different conclusion.128
On the other hand, Brazilian music critics suggest that Vasconcelos draws
upon elements from a broad spectrum of Brazilian and non-Brazilian musical
traditions, while maintaining his identity as a Brazilian percussionist. A description
of one of his first solo albums, Amazonas, demonstrates how Vasconcelos has
synthesized various musical influences into a unique autobiographical expression.
Music critic Marcus Vinfcius credits Vasconcelos with presenting folkloric-inspired
music without attempting to claim any particular:
authenticity, or to preserve a folkloric musical tradition from a particular
region. Nana" intends to solely recreate this same tradition, presenting in his
points of contact and opposition, with universal folkloric elements (Vinfcius
1973).
127

This could possibly represent an example of resistance to the berimbau in non-capocira contexts
from a non-Brazilian perspective. I return to this discussion later in the chapter.
128
Other critiques focus on Vasconcelos's improvisational abilities, and highlight his overall
musicianship. SeeZipkin (1980:33-34).

183

Within a Brazilian context, Vasconcelos presents his music as an organic synthesis of


regional folkloric expression, which he believes enables the music to stand on its own
terms. By drawing upon a broad spectrum of diverse musical traditions as a source of
musical inspiration, Vasconcelos can present fundamental aspects of Brazilian
folkloric music while simultaneously avoiding genre-specific categorization.
This approach has most likely enabled him to comfortably situate himself in a
homogenous global musical context, where he most strongly presents his identity as a
Brazilian and not as a "world" musician. Vasconcelos believes that his collaboration
with musicians Don Cherry and Collin Wolcott in the group Codona, an avant-garde
improvisation ensemble that consisted of many global musical influences, helped to
reinforce his philosophical approach of mixing elements of global music traditions.
He recalls: "we all had ethnic instruments, but we didn't think 'ethnic,' we just
thought 'music'.. .That made the music sound like just music, not Brazilian, Indian
[or] Japanese (Vasconcelos in Diliberto and Haas 1990:41).
While he was aware of the berimbau within the capoeira musical tradition,
Vasconcelos pursued innovations in performance technique that enabled him to
develop a presence as a prominent Brazilian percussionist in internationally
disseminated jazz music genres. Perhaps he developed an approach towards world
music that is not based on a single cultural tradition that justifies his movement of the
berimbau from a specific regional to a global fusion context. In contrast, the
following section features a discussion of Dinho Nascimento, a Brazilian musician
who has developed new berimbau techniques and performance practices, and has

184
encountered resistance from capoeira practitioners regarding his musical innovations
that reinforces some of the initial fears expressed by Vasconcelos earlier in this
chapter.

Dinho Nascimento
Dinho Nascimento is a Bahian-bom composer, percussionist and instrument
designer who learned how to play capoeira informally in the streets of Salvador,
Bahia.129 He earned a scholarship to study composition at the Universidade Federal
da Bahia, and later moved to Sao Paulo to perform with popular music ensembles,
where he began to explore alternative technical and musical possibilities of the
berimbau. Nascimento's berimbau innovations include the development of a
performance technique that enables him to play approximate melodic pitches, which
he has incorporated into a musical context influenced by North American blues
music. Nascimento's technical adaptations allow him to obtain a wider range of
melodic intervals and glissandos than cannot be achieved through conventional
berimbau techniques.
Nascimento has also made organological modifications to the berimbau, most
notably with the development of the "berirnbum" a bass berimbau that consists of an
enormous gourd resonator as well as a string and tuning apparatus from an electric
bass guitar. He replaced the coin or stone with a very small glass bottle, since a sharp
object would cut through the guitar string. The wooden stick used to play the string is

129

I believe that Nascimento is in his mid-to-late 50s.

185
covered with about three inches of cork to soften the timbre. These technological and
organological innovations have inspired musical ensembles such as Berimbrown,
discussed in chapter three, to feature Nascimento as a special guest artist at their live
performances and on their recordings.
Nascimento often incorporates many different berimbaus into his percussion
setup, since each instrument is tuned to a different chromatic pitch and affords him
the option to accompany songs in various keys. He also switches berimbaus within
songs to accommodate key changes. These berimbaus are arranged on a rack in
ascending order and labeled by pitch (see fig 28).

Figure 28: Diiiho Nascimento in Performance (Pellegrini 2000:29)

186
Although many of Nascimento's techniques are unique developments, some
of his musical ideas are similar to elements featured in recordings of Nana
Vasconcelos. Nascimento is aware of this, and he asserts that he independently
explored these innovations and not through imitation of Vasconcelos's musical
concepts. Because most of Vasconcelos's recordings have been released outside of
Brazil (for example, on the European ECM jazz label), however, Nascimento has had
limited access to Vasconcelos's material. These recordings were often difficult to
obtain in Brazil, and when available, they arrived as expensive imports,130
Similar to Vasconcelos, Nascimento perceives a strong musical connection
between the North American blues and the berimbau. Nascimento's experiences with
blues music have developed from various commercial North American and Caribbean
popular music recordings that he heard on the public airwaves in Bahia during his
youth. He explains that loudspeakers were placed in a public square and connected to
a record turntable that played a broad variety of North American, Cuban Italian,
French and Brazilian music.
Nascimento is cognizant of the fact that he only has limited exposure to blues
musical traditions, as he has not been able to travel and research regional American
blues styles or listen to artists whose recordings he did not encounter, such as blues
legend, Muddy Waters. Commenting about the blues he adds:
I don't know the blues, because it has been sent to me from [the United
States]. I've heard it and seen it. I've thought about it. It's from New
Orleans, I have recordings from various regions that have the blues...[but] I
130

During my fieldwork in Brazil in 2000-2001, many of Vasconcelos's imports were two to three
times more expensive than Brazilian national recordings.

187
only know the famous ones, and I don't know the others, because they haven't
come here (D Nasciniento 2001-int),
Nascimento believes that artists such as Duke Ellington, B.B. King and Harry
Belafonte all present some aspect of blues musical aesthetics. He defines the blues as
being representative of what he feels through music. As an extension of that
definition, he feels that blues essence within the sound of the berimbau. Nascimento
recalls that one of the blues recordings that he heard featured a banjo with a guitar.
"When I heard a musician playing that way, through the tradition, when I heard the
banjo, I heard a lot of blues" (D Nascimento 2001-int). He believes that the blues
transcends a particular musical genre and signifies a "state of the spirit" of which the
berimbau, of African origin, "has everything to do with the blues" (D Nascimento
2001-int).
Nascimento began to experiment with timbres that he observed in blues
recordings and incorporated those sounds with the berimbau. His technique for the
"blues berimbau," performed with a conventional berimbau, involves a radically
different performance approach. His inspiration for this modified technique has been
drawn from the blues slide guitar technique, which features a hollow metal tube or
bottle neck that produces a variety of glissando effects.131
In this modified berimbau technique, the instrument is placed on a stool with a
small hole, which secures the bow, as opposed to the left hand supporting the weight.
131

Nascimento's technique is conceptually similar to that employed on the berimbau de lata, a


monochord steel string that is attached to a board and wrapped around the sides of tin cans at each end,
which functions as a double-ended bridge. The instrument is placed on the lap, and a metal slide is
secured in one hand, similar to a lap steel technique. The right hand holds a small stick in a horizontal
position and the stick is lightly bounced on the string.

188
This enables both hands to play on the exterior side of the metal wire in various
locations. The right hand continues to secure a stick and caxixi, and the left hand
holds a small drinking glass instead of a stone or coin.
As a result, the sonority of the berimbau is similar to the North American
diddly bow (a metal string attached to a the exterior of a house, which functions as a
resonator), popularized in Mississippi-Delta style blues. The first event in which
Nascimento introduced his "blues berimbau" was a performance of a composition for
a collaborative modern dance project. Nascimento received a very positive reaction
from the public, and he was encouraged to record this idea professionally, leading to
his 1996 solo recording, Berimbau Blues (D Nascimento 200la-disc).
The instrumentation of the title track "Berimbau Blues" consists of a
berimbau with an acoustic double bass, and a second lower-pitched berimbau added
during the final section of the piece. Although this song references the blues, it
contains some aspects that would not be featured in a typical country blues song.
First, the bass is playing a walking quarter note line, which is often found in swing
and other jazz styles. A typical blues thematic pattern consists of a twelve-measure
progression, with an initial four-measure phrase that is repeated, and a secondary
four-measure phrase that concludes the statement. Nascimento's melodic themes
have generally been constructed following this model, that he alters this structure at
times.
The piece begins with a four-measure introduction featuring a two eighth-note
caxixi motif on beats two and four. The principal melodic phrases that conform to the

189
blues model are in sections A, C, D and E, where B serves as a transition section.
The A motif serves as both an introductory and concluding statement (see trans 21,
Appendix Bl and CD track 20). m
The introduction, A, and first B sections consist of a solo berimbau (see trans
21A and B). The walking bass enters on the first letter C and plays throughout the
remainder of the piece (see trans 21C). The D section features a muted ascending
motif that imitates the walking bass line (see trans 2ID). The E section incorporates
an ascending sliding technique that sounds similar to blues slide guitar techniques
(see trans 21E). The only time the bass rests is in the E and E' sections, where it
pauses for a brief moment on the fourth beat of the second measure in the E section,
and then the two instruments play a joint motif of the second through fourth eighth
notes in the third measure. When this break is repeated in the E' section, the space is
filled by a short solo of Nascimento tapping on the small drinking glass that
substitutes for the coin/stone, thus introducing a timbre that is not present in
conventional berimbau practice.
A second berimbau, which has a lower pitch than the first, enters on the A
section following E". This final A section functions as an extended improvisatory
section. This second berimbau adds rhythmic commentary on the first berimbau's
repeated A motif. The piece concludes with a ritard, and the principal berimbau plays
a traditional blues tag line, followed by a sustained tremolo and descending glissando.

132

Note: This is only a partial transcription of the major themes. The entire transcription appears in
Appendix B1.

190
All eighth notes are swung

Berimbau

Caxixi

0IJLL1S1

Trrrrrrr

O 0

hi

Walking
Bass

0:33

C 0:49

IP
>

rrrrrrrr'rrrrrrrr'rrrrrrrr'rr rrrr n

J J |J

t r "r 'r

D 1:37
B

rm

ferz

LLT LLLT
p p |* rr r rr r r r r T r r r rr rr T r r r r ft
4f

2:09

^H^
Transcription 21: "Berimbau Blues" (D Nascimento 2001a-disc)

191
Reactions to Berimbau Blues
Nascimento encountered many levels of resistance to his innovations from
both capoeira practitioners as well as producers from the recording industry. For
example, capoeiristas claimed that he was disfiguring capoeira principles and did not
properly understand the berimbau's history and tradition. It is possible that there was
additional resistance to Nascimento's attempts to simultaneously represent himself in
both the capoeira and non-capoeira realms, including the Brazilian recording industiy.
Nascimento believes that he received more attention than Nana Vasconcelos
since most of Vasconcelos's recordings were produced outside of Brazil, and
therefore did not receive the same scrutiny had they been a national product.
Vasconcelos's position as a musician who is clearly outside of the capoeira realm has
also afforded him some leeway with capoeira practitioners who saw Vasconcelos "as
an experimental musician" (D Nascimento 2001-int) as opposed to a capoeira
practitioner.133
Nascimento has encountered subtle challenges from record producers and
distributors during the production process of Berimbau Blues (200la-disc). Principal
complaints included the extensive presence of berimbau throughout the album, the
recording title, and cover artwork, which is a black-and white picture of an AfroBrazilian man in a fetal position with a painted berimbau in full-color (see fig 29).
The title of the album appears in a rainbow cross-fade from orange to red to blue.
133

Mestre Nenel (2001-int) was clear to specify that "Nana Vasconcelos.. .is not a capoeirista."
Composer Nelson Mac6do (2000-int) states that Vasconcelos's work with the berimbau is the only
innovative popular music example that he knows outside of the tradition of capoeira. Since
Vasconcelos became successful in the United States, "he was the most visible."

192

Figure 29: Berimbau Blues CD Cover (D Nasdmento 2001a-disc)

The company claimed that the name "berimbau" in the title, as well as a photo
of the berimbau on the cover would limit the selling potential of the recording and
would most likely be placed in the often overlooked folkloric music section of record
stores. They also shunned the use of the word "blues" in conjunction with
"berimbau," which suggested a non-Brazilian musical genre, and would therefore not
be accepted by the public. Only after Nascimento received the Sharp prize for
Berimhau Blues (a Brazilian Grammy-style award) did he gain respect from his peers
within capoeira and the Brazilian music industry.

193
Once capoeira practitioners began to accept his work, they commented that
prior to Nascimento, berimbau examples in popular music recordings failed to evoke
an appropriate aesthetic quality conforming to performance practice within the
capoeira tradition. Listening to Berimbau Blues with a fresh perspective enabled
them to hear how the berimbau was played, and according to Nasciraento, they said
wow, this guy's from capoeira.. .This music made the connection for them so
strongly that they [played it for] their capoeira classes...So for them, they felt
the bridge of capoeira and [popular] music. This is really funny, because the
berimbau had been used a lot in Brazilian music. Gil had used it, Caetano
[Veloso], Baden Powell had played it on the guitar.. .but for them, Berimbau
Blues [made the connection] (D Nascimento 2001-int).
In 2001, Nascimento released another recording, entitled Gongolo (D
Nascimento 2001b-disc), which is derived from a Bantu word that Afro-Brazilian
children use to indicate that their pipa (kite) has become entangled in a telephone
line. On the cover of Gongolo (2001b-disc), two pipas that have become entangled in
the wire of Nascimento's berimbau (see fig 30).
Nascimento presents a version of the Powell/Moraes song "Berimbau" on this
recording. However, Nascimento replaces Powell's guitar imitation of the
berimbau's melodic rhythms with an actual berimbau. Although this recording brings
Powell's initial concept full circle, it removes Powell's innovative guitar adaptation
of the berimbau sounds from the recording. Nascimento met with Powell shortly
before Powell's death and played this recording for him. He states that Powell liked
the version, and gave permission to change the composition in this manner.

194

'\>:J

.'>.

Figwre 30; Gongold CD Cover (D Nascimento 2001b-disc)

Dinho Nascimento's experiments with the berimbau demonstrate how


influences of non-Brazilian musical genres can inspire innovative performance
techniques to develop new ways of conveying musical expression. Although
Nascimento has found it difficult to negotiate boundaries of maintaining an identity as
a capoeira practitioner while introducing new contexts and techniques for the
berimbau, he believes that his continued success is allaying fears that his
modifications will disfigure the capoeira tradition. Moreover, groups such as

195
Berimbrown, who are interested in promoting the berimbau in new contexts, have
sought out Nascimento's organological and technological developments.

Ramiro Musotto
A third berimbau musician whose work contrasts with that of Vasconcelos
and Nascimento is percussionist Ramiro Musotto, who records with multiple
berimbaus ranging from 50 centimeters (20 inches) to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in height.
Born and raised in Bahia Blanca, Argentina in 1965, Musotto studied classical
percussion, drumset, and the percussion of Argentinean folkloric music. When he
was young his mother traveled to Salvador, Bahia and brought him a tourist berimbau
as a souvenir. This instrument sparked his interest and in the late 1970s he began to
discover Nana Vasconcelos's recordings. He indicates that Saudades is the
Vasconcelos recording that made the strongest impression on him. Musotto also
heard many of the albums featuring Vasconcelos and Egberto Gismonti, as well as a
rare Vasconcelos album that was recorded and released only in Buenos Aires,
featuring Argentinean guitarist Augustin Pereira Lucena.
Inspired and intrigued by the berimbau, Musotto decided to move to Sao
Paulo in 1982, where he studied the berimbau and Brazilian percussion with Ze
Eduardo Nazario, a prominent percussionist who has performed and recorded with
Egberto Gismonti, Hermeto Pascoal, Milton Nascimento, Gato Barbieri and John
McLaughlin. According to Musotto, Nazario had developed a berimbau notational

196
scheme that closely followed that of Kay Shaffer (1982).134 Musotto notes that both
Shaffer and Nazario incorrectly transcribed their capoeira-based berimbau material
"backwards," by beginning their transcriptions on the second beat (Musotto 2004-int).
Musotto moved to Salvador in 1984, where he played his first carnival as a
musician for Carlinhos Brown. Musotto later became a recording session musician,
and he lived in the Pelourinho neighborhood for four-and-a-half years, where he spent
most of his free time with local capoeira practitioners and berimbau musicians. As a
session musician, he "accompanied the first Axe music recordings, like 'Elegibo' by
Margareth Menezes" (Musotto 2004-int).135 Also during this time, there was
considerable cultural movement in Pelourinho, as the Afro-Brazilian carnival
parading groups were flourishing. Musotto recalls that regular rehearsals of Olodum,
116 Aiye, the Filhos de Ghandy, and the Comanches were all generating attention for
the neighborhood.
Musotto began to experiment with multiple berimbaus of various sizes during
recording sessions, and the first song that he recorded in this style was "Hino das
Aguas" (Hymn of the Waters) (Menezes 1989-disc). This arrangement features three
berimbaus: a large (2.5 meter/eight-foot) berimbau that provides a fundamental bass
note, and two normal-sized berimbaus (approximately 144cm/ 4.5 feet), all tuned to
roughly the same note, with the larger instrument an octave lower than the smaller

134

See discussion that includes Shaffer's berimbau notation in chapter five.


Menezes was promoted in the United States by David Byrne, whose opening act was often more
popular on stage than Byrne's (see Menezes 1989-disc).
135

197
ones.136 The large berimbau only features the open fundamental tone with no stone or
coin to interrupt the string. The only modification of this fundamental is the gourd
movement against and away from the body, which produces an exaggerated wah-wah
effect. The two smaller berimbaus only use the stone or coin to interrupt the string to
create a repique buzz effect (see trans 22 and CD track 21).137
0:13
Berimbau I

r r r r r 'f f T c r r
Berimbau 3
(Bass Berimbau)
Gourd
Movement

Transcription 22: "Hino das Aguas" berimbau excerpt (Menezes 1989-disc)

Musotto considers his exaggerated gourd movement effects to be one of the


distinctive points that differentiate him from other berimbau musicians, as he uses a
material that is thinner than conventional berimbau resonance gourds. Most berimbau
gourds are made from calabash, but Musotto uses a much thinner gourd from a plant
called cuite, which provides a much longer, sustain than its counterpart. He notes that
most capoeira practitioners prefer the thicker calabash gourd, because it provides a
much greater acoustic volume; he is able to compensate for this by placing a
saxophone microphone inside the gourd to electronically amplify his instrument
136

On this recording, the bass berimbau is tuned to an A, whereas the two smaller berimbaus are tuned
to an A#.
137
Transcription 22 placed in a musical score devised by D'Anunciacao (1990a) that arranges the
three berimbaus from low to high pitch ranges. The lowest berimbau enters first, so this transcription
begins on the bottom staff and moves upward.

198
(Musotto 2004-int). Musotto also prefers to use a metal wire from a steel-belted
radial tire for the berimbau string, due to the broad range of harmonics that this
particular material provides.
Piano wire is good, but it doesn't have many harmonics. It gives a very
defined note, and the string from a car tire is almost if it plays a chord.
Because the first harmonic, the fifth, is sometimes louder than the tonic. And
that's something I like a lot. It's something that's less refined (Musotto 2004int).
Following his success with multiple berimbaus tuned to similar pitches, he
began to develop arrangements for harmonized berimbaus. Each berimbau was tuned
to a different pitch, and then further manipulated with a stone or coin interrupting the
string. Musotto's first experiment in this manner was on another Menezes recording
of "Chegar a Bahia" by Caetano Veloso that was released only in Brazil (Menezes
1993-disc). He expanded this concept on Virginia Rodrigues's recording of "Noite
de Temporal" (Stormy Night) which features at least five berimbaus tuned to distinct
pitches that serve as the only accompaniment to Rodrigues's voice (Rodrigues 1997disc) (see trans 23 and CD track 22). Musotto states that on this recording:
I did a harmonization of the berimbaus. I used chords to make the tonic, third,
fifth and the bass, and when the chord changes I either change the berimbau,
or the position of the stone on the string, and the chords change. And this is
what I'm doing with multiple berimbaus so that I can harmonize (Musotto
2004-int).
These berimbau patterns are based on a Ghanaian bell timeline, with three of the
berimbaus (tuned to the root, third and fifth) establishing a minor triad, and

199

Berimbau I Tuned
To High Tonic

rru

Berimbau 2 Tuned
To High Tonic
Berimbtiu Tuned
To 5th

-JJ-

Berimbau Tuned
To 3rd

JJ

Bass Berimbau
(Tonic)
Gourd
Movement

4M

O - } *

J J

u J J

4-^4-

U J J

J J

Lrrrrnrrrp
o

Transcription 23: Noite de Temporal Excerpt (Rodrigues 1997-disc)

reinforcing this rhythmic pattern.138 Musotto is able to move this triad up a minor
third by drawing upon the raised fundamental (i.e. coin pressed firmly against the
string) of some berimbaus, playing the open fundamental of others, and in some
instances, overdubbing other berimbaus tuned to different pitches.
Musotto has also worked extensively with electronic sequencers, and he
developed a very exciting berimbau solo during a two-year tour with Brazilian pop
artist, Lulu Santos. "La Danza del Tezcatlipoca Rojo" (The Dance of the Red
Tezcatlipoca) is a berimbau solo accompanied by sequenced drum, keyboard and
percussion sounds, that appears as a percussion solo or musical interlude in the
middle of a concert that regularly played to audiences of between 10,000 and 20,000
people (Santos n.d.-disc).139
This work features an excellent example of how the berimbau can
simultaneously represent tradition and modernity, and easily move back and forth
between musical styles remaining comfortably situated in each domain. Drawing

i3s p 0J . a detailed analysis of Ghanaian percussion music, see Locke (1987)


139
This track also appears on Musotto's solo album Sudaka (Musotto 2003-disc).

200

upon metric modulation and contrasting dram machine rhythms this work weaves its
way between traditional capoeira 6/8 rhythm and funk-rock based rhythms of various
tempos. Musotto believes that capoeira practitioners enjoy this work because it
contains fragments of traditional capoeira toques. This piece begins with the toque
Angola (see trans 24A and CD track 23), and moves to a modified version of the
toque Apanha a Laranja no Chdo Tico Tico in a modified time meter of 12/8 (trans
24B). The first transition features a metric modulation which moves from 12/8 to 3/4
time signatures in which the eighth note of the 12/8 time signature becomes the
sixteenth note of the 3/4 time signature (trans 24 Transition I).' 40 This establishes the
groundwork for a slow funk rock groove (trans 24C), which is supplanted by a
sextuplet-based transition (trans 24 Transition 2A). This motif is also frequently
employed by Nana Vasconcelos (trans 20 Transition 2). Musotto follows this second
transition with yet another metric modulation in which the sextuplet sixteenth note
becomes a standard sixteenth note, with the sequencer displacing the pulse
established by the sextuplets (trans 24 Transition 2B). The final section of this work
features a dense electronic dance music rhythmic groove (trans 24D), in which
Musotto creates space and plays back and forth with the audience. The work
concludes with a return to the Angola motif, thus bringing this electronically
sequenced journey back to the realm of capoeira (Musotto 2004-int).

140

Note: This is a partial transcription of the major themes. For a complete transcription, see
Appendix B2.

201

0:30

Berimbau

Pi

"Caxixi"

lil

Hi Hat
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Synthesiser

8th Note = Dotted Quarter Note


B 0:51

f J. J- J. J. i j . J. J- J. l j . J. J- J. Ill

8th Note^ 16th Note


l;00

Transition 1

JJ

j, i c Transition 2a

j j J J ij j i
16th Sextuplet" 16th Note
Transition 2b

HJ, ;i, n

J J
- nJJ
4~^J.>J J ij.H-4-

1:23

Transcription 24; Musotto Berimbau Solo with Electronic Sequencer (Santos n.d.-disc)

202

Musotto has never experienced resistance from capoeira practitioners,


probably because he is able to convey knowledge of the capoeira tradition in his
contemporary works. Perhaps the most scrutiny that he has faced is derived from his
being an Argentinean-born percussionist who plays the berimbau. He notes that this
scrutiny is in his past, since he has pursued a successful career in Brazilian music for
more than two decades.

Conclusion
Nana Vasconcelos, Dinho Nascimento and Ramiro Musotto offer three
contrasting perspectives of innovative berimbau performance practice. While they
are representative of a much larger pool of berimbau musicians who have recorded in
Brazilian and international contexts, their unique approaches demonstrate contrasting
visions of the berimbau's presence and character within the context of Brazilian
popular music.
As Vasconcelos has developed extended techniques derived from his own
improvisations, Brazilians and non-Brazilians most frequently refer to him as the
individual who has most visibly moved the berimbau from capoeira to global music
contexts. Vasconcelos has inspired countless musicians within and beyond Brazil's
borders. This is evident in the emergence of new techniques and types of berimbaus
in non-Brazilian musical contexts. For example, Okay Temiz in Sweden was initially
inspired by Vasconcelos, and later developed a violin-style grip by securing the bow
between the shoulder and chin (Graham and Robinson 2003). Within Brazil, Dinho

203

Nascimento has applied some of Vasconcelos's concepts towards the development of


new techniques and types of berimbaus, leading to a fusion of a slide berimbau
technique into blues music. Initially inspired by Vasconcelos, Ramiro Musotto
pursued in-depth studies of berimbau performance practice within the context of
capoeira, and has used this as a basis for creating innovative multiple berimbau
arrangements on many well-known recordings.
Each of these three musicians relate to Brazilian national identity and the
berimbau in a different way than Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil, both discussed in
chapter two. One principal distinctive point is that they no longer conformed to
cultural restrictions imposed on the berimbau by the capoeira tradition, and as a result
they incorporated the berimbau into new musical contexts.
While Vasconcelos and Nascimento are from Northeastern Brazil, what can
be said of Musotto's musical authenticity as an Argentinean national? Through his
quest for learning the berimbau, Musotto moved to Bahia and immersed himself into
Bahian culture. Did he need to complete this step in order to validate his knowledge
of Brazilian musical culture? Recalling that Vasconcelos did not grow up as a
capoeira practitioner and taught himself how to play the berimbau after he was an
established percussionist, he could be considered as more of an outsider of the
capoeira tradition than Musotto.141 Moreover, since Musotto could be considered a
cultural outsider, he has been able to explore his innovations with a hybrid
perspective. Consequently, it is likely that capoeira practitioners directed more
141

Musotto commented that Vasconcelos freely admits that he is not versed in capoeira berimbau
toques (Musotto 2004-int).

204

scrutiny towards Nascimento, because he was from Bahia and well versed in the
capoeira tradition.
In chapter five, I present other ways in which the berimbau has helped to
shape Brazilian national identity through the genre of art music. Issues to be
addressed include how the berimbau has been represented in art music genres, and
what accommodations have been made in order to make a space for the berimbau
within the symphony orchestra. As a result of the berimbau's formal incorporation
into art music contexts in the late 1950s, new music notation schemes were developed
to enable the berimbau and other Brazilian percussion instruments to share the stage
equally with other European-derived music instruments. Although Brazilian art
music is not produced for dance music contexts, comparisons of compositional
processes can be drawn between the work of Tim Rescala, M4J, and Ramilson Maia.

205

Chapter Five
The Berimbau in Brazilian Art Music

For the purposes of this chapter, I define Brazilian art music as a genre in
which music is produced specifically for performances in concert halls. Following
models of European art music, the notion of restricting music to concert halls
suggests that it is a music for and by the country's elite, and is therefore exclusive of
the lower classes. Composers of art music have had to negotiate boundaries of art
and popular music in Brazil, between a very small elite class and a much larger lower
and middle class population. By focusing on the genre of Brazilian art music, new
aspects of Brazilian nationalism as defined from the late 1950s to the present are
revealed.
This chapter begins with an overview of Brazilian art music and includes a
discussion of how the use of African-derived thematic material was used in the genre
since the late 1800s. Two major trends of Brazilian art music from the 1920s to the
present include various phases of Brazilian nationalism and recent contemporary
vanguarda (avant garde) music. Central to this chapter is a discussion of
Ganguzama, the first symphonic work that incorporated the berimbau. Ganguzama
began a process that eventually led to the development of a comprehensive musical
notation scheme by percussionist and composer Luiz D' Anunciacao, By using
D'AnunciacjIo's concepts, capoeira scholars have been able to pursue detailed studies

206
graphically depicting comparative performance practices among capoeira
practitioners.
Following a discussion of Ganguzama and the subsequent development of
berimbau notation, I focus on D'Anundac.ao's development of berimbau notation and
the emergence of percussion-based art music in Brazil. I also discuss a contemporary
vanguarda composition for berimbau and pre-recorded tape by Luiz Augusto (Tim)
Rescala. Vanguarda composers such as Rescala pioneered juxtapositions of the
natural acoustic timbres of the berimbau against electronically-produced sounds that
were prepared and recorded on magnetic tape. This work was a collaborative effort
by Rescala and D' Anunciagao, and in some aspects, serves as a technological
blueprint for the berimbau and electronic dance music compositional processes that
were presented in chapter four.

Brazilian Art Music


Sacred music developed more slowly in Brazil than in New World colonies
under Spanish control, partly because of the minimal organization of a formalized
church structure in Brazil. The Jesuits had implemented formal musical instruction in
Bahia by the 1550s, where they encountered indigenous musical traditions that
employed flutes, rattles, and other musical instruments constructed from human
bones. Through a process of cultural re-orientation, indigenous people were
instructed how to sing in Latin and Portuguese. They also learned how to play small
organs, harpsichords and European woodwind instruments (Appleby 1983:4).

207

Besides vocal and instrumental instruction, Jesuit schools featured musical instrument
craftsmanship. Consequently, the use of viola (10 or 12 string guitar) and rabeca
(string instrument between a violin and viola in size) continues to be strong in
Northeastern musical traditions and is a direct result of the important Bahian and
Pernambucan cultural centers during this early phase (Neves 1981).
Art music began to flourish with the arrival of the Portuguese monarchy that
fled from Napoleon's army in 1808 to Brazil and established Rio de Janeiro as the
head of the Portuguese empire. Rio instantly became the center of Brazil's musical
activity and flourished until 1831, when Emperor Dom Pedro I abdicated his throne.
Subsequent political instability resulted in reduced musical activities between 1831 to
1840, when an interim regency of political rulers served as the administration for the
child emperor, Dom Pedro II.
Prior to the 1860s, operas presented in Brazil were composed almost
exclusively by European composers. One of the first Brazilian operas to obtain
international success was Carlos Gomes's // Guarany, which premiered in Milan,
Italy in 1870. Although this work was set in mid-1500s Brazil, its text was in Italian,
and it followed the nineteenth-century operatic tradition (Appleby 1983:47). In the
period from the 1880s to the 1920s, Brazilian composers closely followed composers
of European romanticism. Also during this period, they began incorporating aspects
of Brazilian popular music including the lundu (central African song and dance form
that is related to many urban Brazilian song styles), modinha (sentimental song style

208
that incorporates the lundu and Portuguese influences) and choro into their
compositions.
Brazil has continually struggled to climb out of the shadow of European art
music. Works of many Latin American composers have been dismissed as mere
imitations of European styles. One of the defining moments in Brazilian cultural
nationalism was launched in February 1922 at the Sao Paulo Semana de Arte
Moderna (Modern Art Week). The broad-based modernismo (modernism) movement
included expressions in literature, fine arts and art music.142 One of the primary
objectives of this event was to displace established icons of Brazilian art by deemphasizing their aspirations to solely emulate models provided by European
masters. Some of these Brazilian fine artists included Aleijadinho, one of the most
famous colonial-era sculptors and architects, and Carlos Gomes, discussed above, a
figurehead of Brazilian art music (Neves 1981).
Both Neves (1981) and Mariz (1997) concur that Mario de Andrade, an
extensively-published multi-disciplinary author, poet, musicologist, folklorist and
journalist, was able to adequately theorize general trends of a select group of young
Brazilian composers in the early 1920s. One of Mario de Andrade's (1944) principal
points of distinction is that he questioned specific musicological certainties of his era,
such as the assumption of an exclusive African origin of syncopation in the Americas.
In 1928, he published Ensaio Sobre a Musica Brasileira (Analysis of Brazilian
Music), which proposed a systematic approach towards Brazilian musicological

142

This event is also discussed in the introduction.

209
studies. Andrade also called for the incorporation of European compositional
techniques, such as melodic structure, harmony, and orchestral treatment. Mdrio de
Andrade believed that by using a modified European technique, an "authentic
Brazilian music" could emerge that would be essentially universal and transcend
labels of inferiority that had been bestowed upon a developing colonized country
(Andrade in Neves 1981:148).
Neves's analysis of early nationalistic music revealed the use of short melodic
and rhythmic cells based on Brazilian folkloric musical manifestations. The resulting
music associated "with composers like Stravinsky, Falla [and] Bartok, without losing
contact with its national roots" (Neves 1981:49), He defines this as a "new musical
objectivity" in which nationalistic spirit is less defined by the formulas of European
academies, and leans more towards the romantic influences of neoclassicism. Neves
believes that if Brazilian artists obtained "aesthetic autonomy," nationalism and its
associated literary projects would eventually superimpose a structure with associated
limitations. Neves concludes that, rather than developing their own unique styles,
Brazilian composers transferred their dependence from Mozart and Bach onto
Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Bartok, Prokoviev, Stravinsky and others (Neves 1981:49).
The music of Heitor Villa-Lobos introduced nationalistic Brazilian music in
an international arena (Beliague 1994). He is still the most prominently known
Brazilian art music composer outside of the country. Although Villa-Lobos is known
for a three-year journey across Brazil, when he observed a broad variety of music
making, he did not scientifically collect folk tunes for the purposes of incorporating

210

into his compositions. Villa-Lobos drew on indigenous exoticism as one of his


thematic cornerstones, often using the stereotype of the caboclo (mestigo of
indigenous and European heritages) (A Ferreira 1986:302).
Villa-Lobos also used imagery from Brazil's Broad spectrum of ethnic
identities. One example of this can be seen in his Prole de Bebe nl (1921), a suite of
piano pieces that was inspired by characters that appear in Brazilian childrens' songs,
dances and legends.143 Villa-Lobos transformed these characteristics into toy dolls
constructed of various materials as the basis for each movement, including
"branquinha" (a porcelain doll), "moreninha" (a papier mache doll), "caboclinha" (a
ceramic doll), "mulatinha" (a rubber doll) and "negrinha" (a wooden doll) among
others (Marcondes 2001:821). Certain qualities of these materials can be associated
with these racial categories, such as the fragility of porcelain used in conjunction with
the "branquinha" (a white doll). In contrast, the "negrinha" (a black doll) "only
knows how to walk monotonally, does not sing, does not dance, but involves us with
the magic rhythm of her steps" (Mariz 1997:37). Moreover, the introduction of
"negrinha" only features the black keys of the piano (Behague 1994:63). Villa-Lobos
also incorporated local variants of urban popular music into his compositions, most
notably, the choro from Rio de Janeiro.
African-derived thematic material was prominently used in Brazilian art
music from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. The first orchestral Brazilian work to

143

See Carvalho (1994) for a discussion of stereotypical imagery in Brazilian childrens' songs.

211
use African-derived themes was "Samba," the fourth movement of Suite Brasileiro144
by Alexandra Levy (1864-1892). This work reflected national ideals that Levy had
formed from a six-month visit to Europe in 1887, which related to political unrest
surrounding the formation of a new republic and the impending abolition of slavery.
The first known work that is titled "samba" draws upon a description of a rural samba
celebration in the 1888 novel A Came (The Meat) by Julio Ribeiro. The second
notable work was Alberto Nepomuceno's "Batuque" from the Serie Brasileira for
orchestra (1891), which incorporated diverse themes from Brazilian folklore,
including the song "Sapo Jururu" from the Northeastern Bumba meu boi (a dramatic
processional dance that celebrates the death and resurrection of a bull), and the
batuque (a central African dance of Bantu origin). Nepomuceno's use of the recoreco (notched scraper) was especially shocking to critics, since this musical
instrument "frequently appeared in Brazilian folk dances" (Appleby 1983:89). In
other words, a musical instrument that was clearly associated with the lower classes
had been incorporated into an elitist musical genre. Since Levy's Suite Brasileiro
remained unpublished when Nepomuceno's Suite Brasileira was composed and
premiered, "the Nepomuceno composition had the impact of a totally new expression
of national elements" (Appleby 1983:89).
In general, African-derived thematic material used in art music focused on
songs and dances of candombli and other folkloric manifestations. These musical
representations of Afro-Brazilians revealed "exterior aspects of the black soul," often

Appleby (1983:85) lists this work as Suite Brisilienne.

212
featuring "never-ending" stereotypical dances (Mariz 1997:30). Although AfroBrazilian musical instruments and dances are well known throughout Brazil, Mariz
suggests that the majority of instruments "do not possess sonorous qualities to be
included in large orchestral ensembles" (Mariz 1997:30). The work Ganguzama,
discussed later in this chapter, demonstrates an effective example of how the
berimbau was incorporated into a large orchestral work, and refutes Mariz's over
simplistic assertion. Art music compositions that employ African-derived musical
instruments have seen limited performances, because orchestras have encountered
difficulties obtaining the actual instruments as well as musicians who know how to
play them, both within and outside of Brazil.
By the middle of the twentieth century, the use of African-derived thematic
material was in decline. This is due in part to the emergence of a group of
contemporary music composers, known as uMtisica Viva" led by composer Hans
Joachin Koellreutter in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s. Koellreutter studied with Arnold
Schoenberg, and brought dodecaphonic (twelve-tone compositional) music to Brazil.
He later moved to Bahia and founded the Semindrios Livres de Musica (Free
Seminars of Music) in 1954, which developed into the Bahian school of art music
composition and the music department at the Universidade Federal da Bahia (Federal
University of Bahia). This school was dedicated to incorporating Bahian themes in
their music, but in general,
the attraction for black themes from [Brazilian] folklore suffered a mortal
blow with the appearance of the 'Musica Viva' group, [who defended]
universal music without any nationalistic label (Mariz 1997:36).

213

Bahian composer Wellington Gomes da Silva teaches composition at the


Universidade Federal da Bahia (Federal University of Bahia), and has compiled a
comprehensive catalog of all works by composers of the Bahian group between 1966
and 1973 (W Silva 2001). These composers include Lindenbergue Cardoso, Ernest
Widmer, Jamary Oliveira, Fernando Cerqueira, Agnaldo Ribeiro, Milton Gomez, and
Tom Ze.145 Silva found a variety of Brazilian musical instruments utilized in these
compositions including reco-reco, agogd, tantan, chocalho, pandeiro, and atahaque,
but in the works of the Bahian composers' group, "the berimbau did not appear [in
scores] between 1966 and 1973" (W Silva 2001-int). Nonetheless, Silva recalls
various performances that took place in the Salao Nobre (Noble Hall) of the Federal
University of Bahia school of music. On these occasions, the berimbau was utilized
within the percussion [section] as a block of improvisation.. .At times they put
the instrument like berimbau, tamborim and various instruments that the
musician would play that did not have any notation.. .Many times I played [in
the orchestra] hearing the berimbau in this way, without any system appearing
in the score" (W Silva 2001-int).
Although the berimbau may not be represented in the actual scores of many Bahian
compositions, it has been a strong presence in the performances of these and other
composers. Unfortunately, it is now recalled only in the memory of musicians and
audiences who were present at these performances.

145

Z6 composed one work and moved to the realm of popular music.

214
Mario Tavares: Ganguzama
Mario Tavares was born in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, on 18 April, 1928,
and died 5 February 2003. He was the principal conductor for the Orquestra do
Theatro Municipal (Municipal Theater Orchestra) in Rio de Janeiro, and directed
international festivals of popular song at TV Globo from the mid-1960s to the mid1970s. Tavares conducted Brazilian premieres of works by Beethoven, Villa-Lobos,
Ravel, Bartok, Radames Gnattali, and Camargo Guarnieri, and conducted world
premieres of works by Francisco Mignone and Villa-Lobos among others (Marcondes
2000:766-767). Tavares's compositions have been performed internationally, and his
compositional style is considered to be representative of Brazilian nationalism
(D'Anuncia?ao 2001-int, Mariz 1997, Neves 1981, Tacuchian 2001-int).
Tavares's best known work is Ganguzama, a symphonic-choral poem for four
soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra composed in 1959 with text by Alvaro Neiva.146
Ganguzama is a simplified historical narrative that begins with the arrival of the
Jesuits, instructors of a supposedly "happy indigenous" population how to pray. The
population of Africans and their descendants is utilized as a symbol contributing to
the "happiness and glory of [the] land" (Neiva 1963a).
The plot of Ganguzama is set around the death of Zumbi dos Palmares, the
last king of Brazil's Quilombo dos Palmares, the largest community of fugitive

This work has been performed four times. Three in Rio de Janeiro (1963,1979 and 1999), and one
in Sao Paulo (2000) (Tavares 2001-int).

215
Africans and Afro-Brazilians that numbered more than 30,000 at its peak.147 The
people of this autonomous nation successfully raided many Northeastern plantations
and resisted various colonial military assaults. The Quilombo dos Palmares was
finally overthrown in 1694, and according to legend, Zumbi was cornered by military
troops at the edge of a cliff and jumped to his death to avoid capture. The dramatic
nature of this event is featured as a key aspect in Tavares's work.
Less than one month after the death of Heitor Villa-Lobos in November 1959,
Ganguzama won the PrSmio Cinqiientenario do Theatro Municpal do Rio de Janeiro
(Fiftieth Anniversary Prize of Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal) and thrust Tavares
into the heart of the inner-circle of Brazilian art music. Composer Francisco Mignone
hailed Ganguzama in an article published in the Didrio das Noticias as an
excellent artistic conception, one of the most nationalistic that has been
composed in Brazil to the present day, with touches of genius only
encountered in Villa-Lobos of whom Tavares is a legitimate successor
(Mignone in Hernandez 1959).
In response to this salutation, Tavares elaborates:
Mignone, who was my teacher in school, liked provocation, and we later had
some big laughs together because of this commentary. But the fact is that I
appear to have been helped by fate. Mindinha [Villa-Lobos's widow] was
very much my friend, and the result of the competition became known days
after the death of Villa-Lobos. I wanted the position in the Theatro
[Municipal] and this helped a lot. (Tavares in Marques 2001:37)148
Music critic Vasco Mariz (1997) reports that the 1963 premiere of Ganguzama was
well received by music critics, and that the music has certain
147

A similar title for Zumbi is "Ganga Zumba." For an archeological perspective on real and
imagined histories regarding the Quilombo dos Palmares, see Allen (2001).
148
Tavares is referring to the success of the composition in relation to his career. Villa-Lobos was an
independent composer who held no formal orchestral position (D'Anunciacao 2004-int).

216
African essences, with certain residues of solutions from Bach's cantatas. The
orchestration is majestic, thanks to the ample experience of the composer, and
at times reminds one of Carl Orff. This work certainly merits being revived
(Mariz 1997:36).
Ganguzama is based on the development of Brazil's national character,
comprised of Indigenous, European (Portuguese) and African heritages. This work
was composed at a time in which Brazilian nationalist ideology was arriving at a
realistic vision of the future, which coincided with the construction of the world's
most modern and progressive city, the new capital of Brasilia.149
Ganguzama demonstrates the use of nationalist ideals in the late 1950s. Neiva
alludes to the musical interaction of multi-layered choral singing as a metaphorical
recreation of the process that created the contemporary Brazilian:
Today, I think that the mark of nobility of the Brazilian soul, that in its
singularity in the chorus of souls, from all of the nationalities, and this
generous miscegenation, where the white, the Indian and principally, the black
came to create, through four centuries, a different man, a new personage to the
stage of history (Neiva 1963a).
Ganguzama is a musical portrait of Brazilian nationality that is divided into
three scenes comprising a total of twelve musical numbers.150
Steeped in nationalistic themes and ideals, this work presents a musical
interpretation of the birth, growth, and Utopian realization of Brazil. As a historical
project, Ganguzama projected an indigenous population who "hoped," African
populations who "helped," the Jesuits who taught prayer, and the Bandeirantes
(expeditionary forces who explored Brazil's hinterlands), who taught their skill of

149
150

See related discussion of late 1950s political and economic issues in chapter two.
This summary is adapted from Neiva (1958, 1963a, b).

217

victorious battle. The musical intervention featuring the berimbau occurs in the
"Holocaust" section of scene two.
Scenario of Ganguzama
Scene One:

Message
Offering
Hosana

Scene Two;

Crazy Inquietude (Instrumental)


Manoa (Instrumental)
Integration (Instrumental)
Holocaust [Berimbau Section]
Return (Instrumental)

Scene Three: Panorama (Instrumental)


Song of the Small Hammock,
Hallelujah
Apotheosis
Figure 31: Scenario ofGanguzama (Neiva 1958,1963a, b)

Scene one is based on the discovery of Brazil, centered around the encounter
of the Jesuits with the indigenous population, featuring thematic material from the
romanticized First Mass held on Brazilian shores. This encounter is metaphorically
depicted as the descent of the Southern Cross constellation to the earth. This new
partnership is blessed by a good angel that guards the destiny of the people. The final
number of the first scene intertwines love and hope into its hymn, completing the
sequence that represents the birth of Brazil.
Scene two begins with the presentation of a singular form of miscegenation
that occurs with the birth of the mameluco, a baby of indigenous and Portuguese
heritage, which is musically portrayed by an orchestral interlude. The Holocaust
section featuring the berimbau is an eyewitness account of a Quilombola (quilombo

218
resident), represented by a bass soloist. He tells of the dramatic final moments of
Ganguzama's life, when the leader and his waniors leapt to their deaths to preclude
capture from government military troops. This is musically depicted by a call and
response between the bass soloist and a berimbau, supported by pedal tones sung by
the chorus. Music critic A. Hernandez describes this as one of the culminating
moments of "Ganguzama," in which maximum dramatic effect is achieved "with a
minimum of sounds" (Hernandez 1959).
The character of the Quilombola, who could also possibly represent a Preto
Velho (spirits that represent old enslaved Africans in Brazil), features text that is
constructed of incomplete words and phrases, suggesting that he is a person whose
primary language is not Portuguese, or that he has not been properly educated (see fig
31). Through these phrases, the Quilombola tells of Ganguzama's final moments in
his final battle, where the quilombo warriors leapt to their deaths rather than succumb
once again to slavery. He sings:
Nego viio tava Id!...
Ganguzama era Zumbi
e Zumbi puld pra Morte!
Nego veio vai conta:
Nego 'stava na mussumba,
cum Ganguzama.
Bandera apariceu!
Ganguzama levanto,
Ganguzama reagiu
Ganguzama morreu!...

The old black man was there!


Ganguzama was Zumbi
And Zumbi jumped to his death!
The old black man came and
will tell:
I was at the African tree
With Ganguzama.
The flags of the Bandeirantes
appeared
Ganguzama raised up,
Ganguzama reacted
Ganguzama died!...

Figure 32; Quilombola lyrics during berimbau intervention (Neiva 1958)

219
The manner in which this text is constructed clearly suggests that the Quilombola is
channeling an older spirit in the Brazilian spiritist religious practice of umbanda. The
spirit of the Preto Velho is a prominent figure in this realm. This text is presented in
broken Portuguese, as if suggesting a style of speech that is present in candomble
song texts.
Following each statement by the bass, there is an improvised musical response
played by the berimbau. At the conclusion of this passage, his voice fades following
his statement that Ganguzama has died. The chorus and orchestra immediately swell
to an explosive response (see fig 32):
Ganguzama ndo morreu!!!
Plantou marco de epopiia
o baobd semilenddrio!
E o banzo da Nossa Lira!!!
t, o bronze da Nossa Histdria!!!

Ganguzama has not died!!!


He planted the seeds of history
The quasi-legendary baoba" tree
It's the sadness of Our History!!!
It's the bronze of Our History!!!

Figure 33: Choral response to Quilombola passage (Neiva 1958)

As a contrast to the Quilombola's text, the choral response features a very poetic
response that is constructed of sophisticated language with complete sentence
construction. Following the choral passage, there is a brief return to the bass solo
melody, which confirms that "the old black man has just told you." A series of
melodic fragments derived from Afro-Brazilian folkloric dances concludes this
section.
Scene three opens in the middle of a dense forested landscape, which covered
the entire country. A Tupi (one of Brazil's indigenous groups) mother sings a lullaby
to awaken her child, the "first little Brazilian" (Neiva 1963b), thus representing the

220

first individual from indigenous, African and European heritages. This suggests a
rejection of a single ethnicity as a national identity. In order to be truly Brazilian, it is
imperative that an individual come from a mixture of multiple heritages.
The thematic material from the beginning of the first section reappears and all
of the involved heritages become related through hope, happiness and pain. The
conclusion of the work features a chorus of the apotheosis, which enables one to hear
a thousand voices coming, from every element, singing the poem of the three
races that are only one race of three voices that speak in only one voice! The
echo of light from these three voices repercusses in infinity, where
Ganguzama lives forever, in the glory of his sacrifice. From this, Brazil was
born, and because of this, Ganguzama survives. (Neiva 1963b)
Neiva concludes that the stoic figure of the King of Palmares is the "affirmation of a
race that paints its kindness, more than its color" (Neiva 1963b).

Use of The Berimbau in Ganguzama


Ganguzama is probably the first work of Brazilian art music to utilize the
berimbau.151 Although Villa-Lobos utilized some Brazilian percussion instruments in
his compositions, he never composed for the berimbau. Brazilian music critic Victor
Giudice (1996) hypothesizes that Villa-Lobos may have incorporated melodicrhythmic fragments into his compositions to simulate musical motifs produced by the
berimbau. D'Anunciacao does not accept this argument. Since Villa-Lobos was able
151

Supported by ethnographic information from D'AnunciacSo (2001-int), N MacSdo (2000-int) and


Tacuchian (2001-int). A second choral work featuring the berimbau, the Missa de Sao Benedito (St.
Benedict Mass), by Jose Maria Neves was composed in 1960, and premiered in 1966, A second
performance in 1966 of this 30-minute work featured singer Clementina de Jesus at a prominent
theater in downtown Rio de Janeiro, This work was performed again in 1967 at a ceremony held at the
newspaper 0 Globo, which honored 16 non-Brazilians who expressed "their love and dedication to Rio
and its people" (Anonymous 1967),

221
to access to a broad array of non-Western percussion instruments, he incorporated the
actual instruments into his compositions. He would therefore have no reason to
melodically suggest the berimbau's sound within a symphonic orchestration.
D'Anunciagao has studied volumes of information about Villa-Lobos,
including personal correspondence, and he has not encountered the word "berimbau"
in these writings. The only instances in which VilJa-Lobos utilized Brazilian
percussion instruments, he specifically indicated "percussao ttpica brasileird"
(typical Brazilian percussion) in the score. Villa-Lobos apparently used Brazilian
percussion instruments as a means to agitate European orchestras and conductors,
who were forced to inquire about the instruments and how to play them
(D'Anunciacao 2001-int:9 Feb).
Mario Tavares's use of the berimbau demonstrates the depth of musical and
cultural associations regarding the berimbau as an indicatory of black culture in
Brazilian society. Tavares states that one of the most important aspects of
Ganguzama is the audience's association of ideas with an event that occurred in
Bahia. At the moment in which the Quilombola appears to tell his first-hand account
of the death of Ganguzama in Bahia, the berimbau appears as an interjection or
response to one of the most dramatic portions of the work. Tavares notes that "when
you talk about black music from Bahia, the berimbau comes right into the head"
(Tavares 2001-int). He believes that the timbre of the caxixi is "something that
accompanies the berimbau, but it is the musical bow that gives the suggestive tone-

222

color that is most commonly associated with the characteristic of the berimbau"
(Tavares 2001-int).
D'Anunciacao elaborates on Tavares's use of the berimbau as an icon of black
culture. When Tavares composed the berimbau passage, he was drawing upon
imagery of Afro-Brazilian resistance to slavery, and thus "established a dialogue
between bass and berimbau" (D' Anunciacao 2001-int:25 Apr).
D'Anunciacao recalls that Tavares was inspired by the resemblance of the berimbau's
tone-color to that of the Hungarian cimbalom.152 When Tavares was composing
Ganguzama, he heard the sound of the cimbalom, and wanted to put the essence of
that sound into his composition. He then made a connection between the timbre of
the cimbalom and the timbre of the berimbau. Since he was composing a nationalist
Brazilian work, the berimbau's strong connection to black Bahian music and culture
represented an ideal aesthetic that could be incorporated into this type of composition.
Therefore, the berimbau was a more appropriate instrumental choice, since it could
aesthetically create a similar dialogue as the cimbalom, while simultaneously
representing a "typically 'black' instrument" (D'Anunciacao 2001-int:25 Apr). This
is one of the principal reasons why Tavares composed for the berimbau in
Ganguzama.
Composer and violinist Nelson Macedo performed in the 1963 premiere of
Ganguzama, and he remembers the powerful dialogues between the bass soloist and

152

A cimbalom is a large chromatic concert dulcimer with a damper pedal invented around 1870. It
has been featured in symphonic works, most notably "Hary Janos," by Zoltan Kodaly (Anonymous
2003:855-856).

223

the berimbau that occurred two or three times (see fig 33). He explains that this
moment was established by creating
a fermata with a group of instruments, [dynamically] piano, and an
unchanging harmony... and then there was the intervention of the berimbau...
the climax of that moment. It was strong, and very well placed. I liked it a lot
(N Macedo 2000-int).
D' Anunciacao describes the same passage, which he equates to call and
response patterns featured in the Catholic mass. When the music came to a stop,
It was something that was kind of religious. More or less kind of like what
happens in a mass, when the priest sings and the congregation responds
(D'Anunciacao 2001-int:25 Apr).

Quatro primeiros compassos do haixo solista no Holocausto nego


veio tava Id Ganguzama era zumbi e zumbi pulo pra mortem
Figure 34: Tavares Notation of Ganguzama Berimbau Passage (Hernandez 1959)

D'Anunciacao performed the berimbau part in Ganguzama in 1979 and 1999,


and provides an interesting interpretation of how this dialogue functions within the
context of the whole work. He states that Tavares's intent was to draw upon a
"phrase of capoeira," which was realized through the use of the toque Angola.
D'Anunciacao believes that although capoeira has many toques with subtle

224

variations, the fundamental "point of departure is Angola" (D'Anunciacao 2001int:25Apr).


D'Anunciacao suggests that since the berimbau notation is merely suggestive
in the dialogue with the bass, the berimbau musician must improvise within the spirit
of the indications provided by Tavares. These berimbau responses could be
approached from either a rhythmic or melodic perspective. D'Anunciac.ao explains
that if the berimbau musician were to pursue only a melodic perspective, there would
only be two notes, the fundamental and raised note, within this dialogue. But if the
berimbau musician were to explore this from a timbre-based improvisation, the
"notes" could serve as starting points, followed by exploration of rhythmic
modifications (D'Anunciaao 2001-int:25 Apr).
Transcription 25 presents a comparative analysis of the intervention in
Ganguzama between the bass vocalist and the berimbau, derived from noncommercial recordings produced in 1979 and 1999. The intervention occurs in two
cycles, each consisting of an exchange of four phrases between the bass and the
berimbau. A woodwind melody repeats the entire bass melody, and upon completion
of the fourth phrase, the berimbau enters again. The entire cycle is then repeated.
Luiz D'Anunciagao played the berimbau during both of these performances, and in
each performance, he used his two-stick technique. There is a pronounced
development in his technical proficiency with this technique in the second recording,
as well as greater exploration of additional timbres and rhythmic variance (see trans
25 and CD tracks 24 and 25).

225

14:40
(1:00)
Berimbau 1979
IstX
Berimbau 1979
2ndX

Berimbau 1999
IstX

fl
fi
fl

iFJ PJ

eee

14:43
(0:00)

fl)

Berimbau 1999
2ndX
Bass
NS~go vS-io ta - va Id

JJ3

E zurn-bi pu-b-pra - mor-te

-Pin-

N-go v6-io vai con -

Woodwind tatti Treats biiss melody


Ecnrabau plays after fourth statement

Transcription 25; Comparison of 1979 and 1999 Ganguzama Berimbau Passage (Tavares 1979disc and 1999-disc)

226
Although more than forty years have passed since the 1963 premiere of
Ganguzama, recollections of this event continue to be discussed today among
musicians in Rio de Janeiro. Prior to the premiere, Brazilian musician Carlos
Negreiros (discussed in chapter three) learned of rumors that the berimbau was going
to be featured in an orchestral work at the Theatro Municipal. He knew that it was
something that he needed to experience. He recalls that the berimbau musician at this
performance was a popular music specialist who did not know how to read music.
"The berimbau player lived to play the berimbau, and he drank a lot" (Negreiros
2001-int:l May).
Due to frequent court appearances for disorderly conduct, this musician listed
a false name in English, "Shepard Scandal" (Negreiros 2001-int:lMay), when he
applied for an orchestral performance permit. The first name, Shepard, was an
homage to the first North American in Space, Alan Shepard, and the last was his
nickname, "Scandal." Since he played the berimbau so frequently, people would see
him and begin to imitate the sound of the berimbau with the mnemonic: "scan-dandal," which evolved into the nickname, "Scandal" (Negreiros 2001-int:lMay).153
D' Anunciacao confirms that there was a berimbau musician known as "Scandal" in
Rio at that time, and he could have performed the piece. "This was one of the guys
who was a berimbau bamha (expert popular musician) from Bahia in that era"
(D1 Anunciacao 2001-int:2 May).154

153

This has been most likely derived as an adaptation of the Portuguese word esccindalo (scandal).
D'Anunciagao could not confirm this with absolute certainty, since all of the other percussionists
who performed the premiere of this piece have passed away. Tavares remembers that the berimbau
154

227

The other prominent story that survives about the premiere of Ganguzama is
how the berimbau was incorporated into the orchestra. Since the berimbau performer
did not know how to read music, a signal was arranged in advance where the
conductor (Tavares) cued one of the orchestral percussionists, who then pulled the
back of the berimbau musician's formal jacket, thus signaling him to begin playing.
This process was repeated when it was time for the berimbau to stop.155 According to
D'Anunciacao (2001-int:2May), orchestral percussionist "Bituca"156 was "the one
who pulled the berimbau musician'spaletd [formal jacket]."
In subsequent performances, the physical placement of the berimbau was
moved from the percussion section at the rear of the stage to a riser directly behind
the second violins, thus placing the berimbau in the string section. D'Anunciacao
(2001-int 2 May) explains that "this piece was a dialogue, so I had to be on a plane to
respond to the bass as a soloist."
The incorporation of the berimbau in Ganguzama developed an extended
conversation between Tavares and D' Anunciacao, which directly led to the
establishment of formal notation schemes for Brazilian percussion instruments. The
following section presents the development and revision of D'Anunciacao's berimbau
notational schemes.

performer for the premiere was a popular musician brought in for the performance, but he did not
remember any details about the individual musician.
155 Versions of this story were related to me by D'Anunciacao (2001-int 2 May), N Macedo (2000-int)
and Tavares (2001-int).
156
Bituca (Edgard Nunes Rocca) was a famous drumset performer, who played with many prominent
bossa nova musicians, and he authored Bateria, Metodo e Prdtico in 1962.

228
Development of Berimbau Notation
Luiz D'Anunciagao introduced his berimbau notational scheme in 1971,157 and
dramatically revised it in 1990 (see fig 34).158 Constructed on a one-line staff, the
stems in the upward direction indicate the right hand, and the stems in the downward
direction indicate the left hand. Two functions of the right hand are distinguished:
the stick playing on the string, and a caxixi solo resulting in no stick contact with the
string. The coin movement is represented by a note (coin contact against the string)
or a rest (no coin contact against the string). Two other indications are made for the
left hand, which feature the placement of the gourd against or away from the
musician's stomach. D'Anunciaao also provides an example of how these sounds
would be represented in the capoeira toque Angola,
Exercise 10

("Angola" bett fron "Capoeir*" playing).

<& J n t i n J J \d gj : r
i

is *' i } r i

Right hand

Left hand

= bester on string

- cudxi solo off string

rr

contact string

. open (gourd off body)

closed (gourd on body)

Figure 35: D'Anunciagao Notation Scheme (1971a:75-77)

D'Anunciacao's initial notational scheme appears to have been adapted and


modified by capoeira scholars. Shaffer (1982:43) adopted notation devices similar to

157
158

Published under the name Luiz Almeida da Anuncia^lo. See D' AnunciafSo (1971a, b).
For a review of other berimbau notation schemes see E Galrn (1997).

229
that presented above, which D'Anunciagao also published in the Revista Brasileira do
Folclore (D'Anundacao 1971b). While Shaffer lists D'Anunciacao's (1971b) article
in his bibliography, he makes no reference to D'Anunciacao in the text, and presents
the musical notation as a result of anonymous capoeira scholarship. "Due to the
various [sound] effects produced by the berimbau, we've had to develop a notation
system to reproduce them" (Shaffer 1982:43) (see fig 35).
ANGOLA
Mestre Canjiquinhas

J = 92-96
1

""*1

___

I*'

II*

"^

Figwrc Jtf; Shaffer Berimbau Notation (1982:47)

Shaffer moved all of the stems to an upward direction, thus eliminating the
distinction in function between the hands. The symbol for the caxixi solo has been
replaced with a triangle (A). Shaffer makes a notational modification of an "x"
notehead for the indeterminate repique (buzz sound). Shaffer also introduces three
principal additions: an encircled x () that represents the coin making contact with
the string, without a simultaneous stroke from the stick; he replaces D'Anunciacao's
gourd indications with an A (aberto--"opm") and an F (fechado--"closed"), and he
expands D'Anunciaao's concept of a crescendo to demonstrate the speed of which
the gourd moves away from the body.
Shaffer's system demonstrates the first step in an extended process of
adapting and modifying symbol-based musical notation schemes, which led to some

230

confusion for musicians, composers, and scholars who had difficulty with common
symbols among these related schemes. For example, in D'Anunciacao's notation, the
encircled x () represents a caxixi solo, whereas Shaffer uses that symbol to depict
coin movement. D' Anunciaao uses an x notehead to represent basic coin movement
(without distinction regarding determined or indeterminate sound), and Shaffer uses
this symbol to depict the indeterminate repique effect.
Capoeira scholars Almeida (1986) and Lewis (1992) have credited Shaffer for
his development of berimbau notation. Almeida comments
there are many notations for berimbau rhythms that have not worked well
because of the variety of musical effects produced by this deceptively simple
instrument. One of the best is the following presented by Shaffer in his book
O Berimbau de Barriga e Seus Toques (Almeida 1986:81).
Lewis (1992:146-152) presents his own musical notation without discussion
of how it developed, and only mentions Shaffer in conjunction with discussion of
variations within particular berimbau toques. Despite the extensive use of
D'Anunciacao's original concepts, there is no reference to D'Anunciacao in either of
these works. The only capoeira practitioner who has credited D'Anunciacao in print
for his contribution to berimbau notation is Nestor Capoeira (1999, 2000).
D'Anunciacao's development of berimbau notation was inspired in part by
conversations with Ma"rio Tavares during their commutes to work in the orchestra at
the Globo television station in Rio de Janeiro. Tavares often complained that he did
not have a way to compose for the berimbau. Although he did notate some sketches
(i.e. fig 33), Tavares claimed that it was not notation, but rather a bula (basic formula)
in his score (Tavares 2001-int), As a result, D'Anunciacao began to research and

231
develop musical notation schemes for Brazilian percussion instruments, which he
continues to revise to the present.
D'Anunciacao's first formal notational scheme was introduced when he was
invited to deliver a lecture about Brazilian percussion instruments at the University of
Colorado at Boulder in 1971. Colorado percussion professor John Galm had written a
magazine article about Brazilian samba percussion instruments, and he suggested that
D' Anuneiacjio prepare an article about the berimbau. D'Anunciacao recalls that:
I brought a berimbau with me to the airport. When I arrived with my
berimbau in hand, [Galm] knew exactly who I was. Clearly the idea [for the
notation] came from that workshop.... A week or two before the course, I sat
down and thought about how I would write for the group there. First of all,
the berimbau is a novelty for Americans. I needed to have an instrument to
show people what it was... when I gave the lecture, I already had come up
with the actual symbols that I used, and when I returned, I had more or less
the form of the article (D'Anunciacao 2001-int:2 May).
Soon after this workshop, he submitted the article for publication in
Percussive Notes (D'Anunciacao 1971a), a research journal of the Percussive Arts
Society in the United States. He later submitted a Portuguese version of the article to
the Revista Brasileira do Folclore (D'Anunciacao 1971b), a publication of the
Ministerio de Educagao e Cultura: Campanha de Defesa do Folclore Brasileiro
(Ministry of Education and Culture: Campaign in Defense of the Brazilian Folklore),
which also operates the Museu do Folclore (Folklore Museum) in Rio de Janeiro.
After D'Anunciacao published this work, he began to realize problems
associated with developing a symbol-based notational scheme. Although the article
was a successful introduction to berimbau performance technique, he states,

232

my intention wasn't to create something that was only practical, where it was
easy to learn, but something that would put the instrument in conditions of
equality with other musical instruments [in terms of] musical notation
(D'Anunciacao 2001-int:2 May).
Following the introduction of this musical notation, he saw modifications and
revisions of his original ideas by other scholars and composers, including the use of
contrasting symbols to depict similar sounds, and different symbols to represent the
same sounds such as in the case of Shaffer discussed above. He recalls that with each
new work that was composed for the berimbau, the musician was required to learn a
new set of symbols and notational scheme. D'Anunciacao re-evaluated symbol-based
notational schemes, and he eventually saw them as counter-productive to his goals of
establishing a notational system for Brazilian percussion instruments. Moreover, he
began to realize that musicians in other cultures would not be able to properly
interpret his notational scheme without the assistance of his personal instruction.
D' Anunciaao responded to this dilemma by returning to conventional ("Western")
notation, which he sees as a universal language that is accessible to many music
cultures throughout the world (see fig 36).
In this conventional notation-based revision of his scheme, two fundamental
elements remain unchanged: the stems for the right hand point upward, and the stems
for the left hand point downward. Rather than utilizing a one-line staff,
D'Anunciacao develops a grand staff, consisting of three principal lines.

233

Berimbau

r
Ttrrrr^T
!

Uou-*

Figure 37: Revised D'Anunciagao Notation (1990a:73)

There is now a separate line for both the moeda (coin) and the "uou" (sound of the
gourd movement away from the body). D' Anunciacao now makes a distinction with
the coin by indicating a repique (buzz effect) as a tremolo (similar to notation for a
roll on a snare drum). This is the first musical notation that clearly indicates the
rhythmic possibilities of the gourd movements.159 At the top of the staff, the corda
(right hand stick on the string) and caxixi now have a separate space and line
(respectively), thus eliminating the need for an alternate symbol. This notational
system also allows for expansion of several lines above the corda, thus enabling
composers, scholars, and performers flexibility for modification within certain
parameters.
D'Anunciacao believes that this conventional-based system has been
constructed from a universally founded musical language that has been successful for
over three hundred years. He rebuffs implications that the use of conventional
notation favors European-derived concepts and values, which may not adequately

159

While Pinto's (1988-disc) scheme specifically indicates gourd movement, the notation is limited to
approximations within the boxes of the TUBS (Time Unit Box System)-based notation.

234

represent musical aesthetics from non-Western music cultures. D' Anunciaclo


suggests that if a musical notation scheme is developed specifically to represent a
particular music culture, it will be an expression confined to the limits of its assigned
purpose. In a comparison of musical notation to other cognitive systems, he notes
that Arabic and Roman numerals coexist because they both have value as logical
systems. Regarding conventional notational schemes, he states:
The European system is a Western system, and it was created to explain, to
systematize a writing that represented sounds that served the model for
European sounds.. .the musical notation system is European because a
European invented it.... [If] you root for using this [system], transmitting the
sonorous idea of another country, it will be the end result. You use the
alphabetwhether a German, English or Russian invented it. German,
Portuguese, English, Italian are all served by the same letters, but each one has
its own accent (D'Ammciacao 2001-int:25 Apr).
He equates this process with linguistic tools that can enable a person to study
and learn how to pronounce a word. With extended study, alternate pronunciations
and regional variations can be adequately developed and expressed. While he
acknowledges that the dominance of European culture is potentially dangerous, he
believes that if any individual is composing beyond his own capacity, "he would err
without doubt. It wouldn't give the feeling of what is there" (D'Anunciacao 2001int:25 Apr).
D'Anunciacao views his revised berimbau notation scheme as one that would
be applicable in a global context. He also believes that with this type of technical
understanding, combined with a musician's sensibility for music, the mystique that is
traditionally reserved for cultural insiders will be greatly diminished. He continues:

235
When you compose for berimbau, you [cannot] say, "berimbau, play however
you like." In Brazil, that's easy. You find people who play berimbau, and
you can say, play this here, etc. But you leave here, and arrive in the US,
Japan or wherever, and musicians say, "what's the berimbau? How do you
play the berimbau?" They don't have the mao [the "hand"] (D'Anunciacao
2001-int:2May).
As a result, D'Anunciacao believes that this system will be primarily beneficial to
musicians who understand how to read conventional music. He asserts that
if you understand music, you'll be able to pick up the instrument and go play,
because it's not that difficult of an instrument. All you need to know is how
to pick up the stick, hold the coin, and how to place it within a musical context
(D'Anunciacao 2001-int;2 May).
D'Anuncia5ao is well aware that a technical instruction manual without
considering musical aesthetics would be of limited value to a non-Brazilian musician.
In order for any musician to understand the berimbau within a Brazilian (or more
specifically capoeira) musical context, it is important to learn the boundaries and
limits of themes and related improvisations and develop their own sense of berimbau
musicality. D'Anunciac,ao developed his material based on extensive observation of
berimbau performance practices within the context of capoeira, as well as
ethnographic research and lessons with capoeira masters. Mestre Nestor Capoeira has
celebrated D' Anunciacao's work as a realistic comprehensive introduction to
berimbau technique and musicality (Capoeira 2000:114-116).
D'Anunciacao believes that through the creation of a codified methodology,
Brazilian percussion instruments will begin to gain value within Brazilian musical
educational systems. Through this process, he is interested in demonstrating the
compositional potential for these instruments, which will in turn be an incentive for

236

expanded study within Brazilian university percussion departments. He also believes


that through the proper understanding of Brazilian percussion technique, Brazilian art
music in general will benefit from this process. For example, if a Villa-Lobos score
requires a percussionist to play the reco-reco, D' Anunciacao questions how the
musician will technically and musically accomplish this. He believes that the
articulation of each stroke has a particular diction, whether legato or staccato.
Through the mastering of these techniques and converting them into a musical
diction, Brazilian and non-Brazilian percussionists will be able to accurately realize
the compositions of composers such as Claudio Santoro and Cesar Guerra-Peixe
(D'Anunciac.ao 2001-int:2 May).

D'Anundacjao's Two-Stick Technique


In the second part of D'Anunciacao's work, he presents new techniques that
distance the berimbau from its traditional context. One of his principal objectives
was to distinguish his vision of the berimbau as a multi-timbre percussion instrument
and establish its presence in art music beyond stereotypical quotations of capoeira
music. He achieved this objective in two principal ways: he removed the caxixi from
the berimbau's collection of sounds, and in its place introduced a technique for two
sticks held in the same hand. D'Anunciacao believes that if he maintained the
berimbau exactly the same as it is found within capoeira, he would constantly remain
within the berimbau's capoeira performance practice capabilities.
If I stayed within the toques of capoeira, the most that I could do would be [to
play] toques that [remain within] capoeira.. .1 began to work with the

237

berimbau so that it wouldn't always remain within the capoeira [context]


(D'Anunciagao 2001-int:9 May).
D'Anunciacao's two-stick technique is similar in concept to that of a twostick (in one hand) vibraphone or marimba grip. The two-stick technique can produce
multiple stick-based sounds and also facilitate melodic timbral phrases, staccato and
legato articulations, tremolos on the string, wood, or gourd, and simultaneous
string/wood/gourd combinations. As a result, you have a phrasing that is completely
different than that found in capoeira, and you then project a structure within a more
"industrialized concept" (D'Anunciagao 2001-int:9 May).
D'Anunciacao's interest in the berimbau has led him to compose two works
for the berimbau "4 Motivos Nordestinos" (4 Northeastern Motives) (1990b), and
"Divertimento para Berimbau e Violao" (1990a). These works will be covered
following a discussion of percussion-based art music in Brazil.

Percussion-Based Art Music in Brazil


D'Anunciacao faced resistance to his efforts to establish percussion music in
Brazilian art music circles in the early 1970s. When he proposed a percussion music
concert to inaugurate a college orchestral percussion course, one prominent figure
told him "my son, percussion doesn't make music" (D'Anunciacao 2001-int:2 May).
He recalls that when he joined the Orquestra Sinfdnica Brasileira (Brazilian
Symphonic Orchestra) in 1971, the stagehands had placed the xylophone with the
oboes and English horns and the remaining components of the percussion section
remained at the rear of the stage. When D'Anunciacao requested that the xylophone

238
be moved back to the percussion section, the stagehand replied that it was a
"instrumentino" (woodwind) and he refused to move it. The conductor finally
intervened and directed the stagehand to comply, but for the stagehand, "the
xylophone was not a percussion instrument. It belonged up with the oboes, as
something that held a lot more [value]... Things were that way" (D'Anuncia?ao
2001-int:2 May).
In the 1970s, D'Anuncia$ao founded the chamber percussion ensemble,
Quarteto Instrumental, a novelty since there were no chamber percussion ensembles
in Brazil at that time. The group featured two percussionists (D' Anunciacao and his
brother), flute, and piano, and performed works commissioned by Radame"s Gnatalli
and Francisco Mignone. This group actively performed in state public school
systems, and gained notoriety demonstrating percussion-based art music.
D'Anunciac.ao believes that because there is a strong presence of percussion
in Brazilian popular and traditional music, prejudices were in place against
percussion-based art music.
Here in Brazil, percussion is the escola de samba, or a folkloric group, playing
whatever drum, is called a percussion group... [For example,] cavalo
marinho is not a group of percussion, it's an important popular Brazilian auto
[religious-themed medieval-style dramatic presentation], but it's not a
percussion ensemble. It has percussion, but it has dance, theater, something
you do on the street. It's something fantastic. But here [in the university
music school] it's called a percussion group (D'Anunciayao 2001-int:2 May).
As a result of these circumstances, D' Anunciagao knew that the quartet needed to
expand its repertoire of Brazilian compositions, resulting in his work, 4 Motives
Nordestinos ("4 Northeastern Motives") (D'Anunciacao 1990b).

239

IV - CAPOEIRA
J=80

* BERIMBAU
(ING)

VIBES

-in

FLAUTA

1
<h&".i,l.,a*, ' -

n-

stow and freely

n.

pichupthscaii:!

rtw
Figure 38: Excerpt from 4 Motivos Nordestinos D'Anunciagao (1990b:9)

The first movement is "Cantiga de Violeiro" (The Guitarist's Song), a piece based on
a Northeastern guitar style, presented as a marimba solo. The second movement
functions as an interlude to the third, which is a xaxado (Northeastern song and dance
form), featuring piccolo, flute, vibraphone and marimba. The final piece, "Capoeira,"
begins with a theme based on the toque Angola that is introduced by the flute, and
then responded to by the berimbau (see fig 37 and CD track 26). The remainder of

240

the movement features a flute melody, supported rhythmically and melodically by


berimbau and vibraphone. This work was well received in Brazilian and North
American concerts, and it was eventually published in Germany and London.
D'Anunciagao's other major work for berimbau is "Divertimento para
Berimbau e Violao" (1990), which he refers to as a didactic piece to demonstrate the
compositional suggestions and extended techniques that he introduced in his
performance manual. This work has been well received by prominent Brazilian
composers, including Nelson Macedo, who considers it to be his favorite
D' Anundagao composition. He especially enjoys the combination of berimbau and
guitar, and notes that D' Anunciacao's sonorous combination of these two instruments
evokes the same happiness of instrumental duets as in Mozart's compositions for
violin and viola (N MacMo 2000-int). Macedo also enjoys D'Anunciacao's choice of
a Northeastern Brazilian guitar melody, but treated and set "in a more sophisticated
form" (N Mac6do 2000-int). As this work draws upon many of the extended
berimbau techniques presented in D'Anunciacao's performance manual, a berimbau
musician would need to master all of the technical and musical exercises prior to
attempting to play this work (see Appendix B3 and CD track 27).
"Divertimento para Berimbau e Violao" begins with a slow ascending guitar
motif that sets up an introduction for the berimbau that features a sustained tremolo
with varying dynamics. This initial tremolo immediately demonstrates control and
dynamic vaiiance produced by D'Anuncia$ao's two-stick technique that would not be
possible with only one stick. The second figure played by the berimbau (0:48) is

241

obtained by subtle movements of the coin, which manipulates the harmonics of the
string.160 This introduces what I call the A motif played by the guitar (0:55), which is
repeated slowly and explored in a berimbau cadenza (1:17). In this section
D' Anunciac, ao demonstrates how he uses exaggerated movement of the gourd against
and away from the body to conclude some phrases. At the Piu Mosso (1:37)
D'Anunciaao introduces the B motif, which is explored in various facets throughout
the composition. This motif sets up a cadence in the middle of the composition (3:30)
and again at the conclusion (6:42). The Andante section (2:26) introduces the C
motif, which is a rhythmic pattern that suggests the work will develop into a vibrant
dance for the remainder of the composition. This continues moving in a forward
direction until it is interrupted by the B motif (3:30) followed by a grand pause. The
next section features an extended guitar cadenza (3:38), beginning with a motif
similar in spirit to the introduction. As the guitar cadenza develops, the style initially
suggests a Bach invention, and quickly changes to a Northeastern descending guitar
motif. The guitar cadenza concludes with an interruption of the berimbau (5:09),
which is followed by a sparse call-and-response between the two instruments. This
develops into a more active commentary between the voices, leading to an
implication of a metric modulation by the berimbau. The A motif returns with a brief
reflective exploration (6:14) and return to the introductory motif (6:26), and the piece
concludes with the B motif (6:42).

160

Since this work features extended cadenzas with no barlines, I will use CD timing marks for points
of reference. These CD timing marks have been incorporated into the score in Appendix B3.

242

D'Anunciacjio's system can expand to accommodate new timbres and sound


combinations by adding a line or space at the top of the berimbau staff. While this
could potentially become a staff that utilizes an extensive amount of space on the
page, an allocated space is given to a specific sound that remains consistent
throughout the piece. This work is clearly the most technically complex berimbau
composition that has ever been conceived in a comprehensive notational scheme. It
demonstrates a significant potential for berimbau performance practice that could
transcend cultural barriers by enabling composers and performers to conceive of and
reproduce sophisticated berimbau compositions in solo or chamber music ensemble
contexts. D'Anunciacao's musical notation scheme and two-stick technique are
being used and studied by a broad range of Brazilian composers, professional
percussionists, and capoeira practitioners, which suggests that his work will help
shape future developments in berimbau composition, musicality, and performance
practice.

Luiz Augusto (Tim) Rescala: "Pe^a para Berimbau e Fita Magnetica"


In the late 1970s, when D'Anunciacao was in the midst of revising his
notational scheme and developing his two-stick technique, composer Luiz Augusto
(Tim) Rescala asked D'Anunciacao if he would be willing to collaborate on an
electroacoustic berimbau piece. This developed into "Peca para Berimbau e Fita
Magnetica" (Piece for berimbau and magnetic tape) (1981) Rescala composes for a
broad range of musical contexts, including musical theater, orchestra, and

243

electroacoustic music. In 1997, he was commissioned by the Centro Cultural Banco


do Brasil (Cultural Center of the Bank of Brazil) to compose the children's' opera A
Orquestra dos Sonhos (The Orchestra of Dreams). The work is based on Benjamin
Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and contains themes of Brazilian
folklore, music, and musical instruments at its foundation (Marcondes 2000:673).l6i
"Pega para Berimbau e Fita Magne"tica" is a methodic investigation into
sonorities and timbres of the berimbau. All of the recorded sounds on the
performance tape have originated from elements of the berimbau, and have been
electronically manipulated by Rescala. This work moves from the unfamiliar to the
familiar, beginning with an "abstract discourse" of sonorities and concludes with a
traditional berimbau toque as it would appear in a game of capoeira. According to
Rescala, most works of this nature begin with familiar sounds and move to the
abstract. In this piece, he saves the recognizable capoeira thematic material until the
end, so that the "conceivable and more characteristic" context for the berimbau can
function as a musical surprise (Rescala 2000-int).
As preparation for this work, Rescala learned basic berimbau performance
techniques, because he "didn't want to write anything absurd" (Rescala 2000-int). He
then approached D'Anunciacao and invited him to record some material that would
be manipulated for the performance tape. At the recording session, D'Anunciaao
played various individual berimbau sounds and sound combinations. The separation
between composition and performance is not absolute in this musical relationship.

161

This work features a brief berimbau passage when the "capoeira" section is introduced,

244

Rescala and D'Anunciacao's collaboration demonstrates the flexible roles that each
participant plays in this creative process, D'Anunciacao observes:
That's normal for the composer, principally in the vanguarda (Brazilian
avant-garde compositional style). The composer says, "I'm thinking of this,"
but it really depends on what the artist can do on the spot. Because it really
isn't written down, so you have to do it. It was a [collaborative effort, but
Rescala] had good ideas and good suggestions, very logical things, because
he's very intelligent (D'Anuncia?ao 2001-int:25 Apr).
On both the recorded tape examples and the live performance, D'Anunciacao
remembers using a variety of different ways to play the berimbau in this piece,
including a wooden stick, two wooden sticks held in the right hand, and a round metal
file, which is used to scrape against the metal berimbau string, somewhat
conceptually similar to an inverted reco-reco.162
Rescala sketched basic elements of the form of the work prior to his
collaboration with D' Anunciacao, such as featuring only caxixi and tape in one
section, and live unaccompanied berimbau in another. As he worked with
D' Anuncia?ao in more detail, he altered elements of the form as new ideas were
generated between the two. During the process of composing with
sound material, you discover things that illuminate what you're working
with.. .[and] you arrive at a place that you're not looking for. This is what you
do when you alter something. So there exists this element of surprise in
electro-acoustic music that's essential. It's happening because the process is
always changing (Rescala 2000-int).
The next step in the process was to manipulate the recorded samples by
changing their velocity, passing them through sound filters, manually editing the

162

D'Anunciacao believes that this work was his first public performance that utilized his two-stick
technique for the berirnbau (see D'Anunciagao J 990a).

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recorded tape, and re-recording the new sounds, and then repeating the whole process
with this new material. Rescala reflects upon techniques and labor involved in
manually editing audio tape.
The angle that you cut the tape affected the attack of the note. And the
manner in which you joined two sounds... [if] you made two like this (straight
cut) it would be more abrupt, and if you were cutting this way (diagonally)
you'd get a cross-fade. This was used in that era. If you recorded, then
changed the velocity, an octave above and below the original sound, you
could do it over and over, and put sounds together, etc. It's the same as you
do today, it's just that it took a lot longer. And it was a work that was
essentially manual.... Today...you would spend much less time...doing the
same work, with the help of computers (Rescala 2000-int).
Rescala began the piece "with a more abstract discourse, working with pure
music in a sonorous game between timbres and densities," and progressed toward a
sound structure that more clearly represented the berimbau within a context "that is
somewhat conceivable and more characteristic of the berimbau" (Rescala 2000-int).
This point of arrival is when the berimbau begins to play a traditional capoeira
toque. D'Anunciagao recalls, "I didn't stipulate a fixed toque from capoeira, but the
idea is from within the toque of Angola ,. .but it's not realistically Angola"
(D'Anunciacao 2001-int:25 Apr). He does not consider this to be an actual
interpretation of the Angola capoeira toque in its traditional form, since the berimbau
musician must follow the structure and spirit of Rescala's composition. This is a
style that is related to contemporary vanguarda performance practice. Rescala adds
that "this toque begins live, and later enters distorted on the tape.. .[later] there is
more freedom, but not a lot of space" (Rescala 2000-int). The freedom Rescala refers

246

to is a brief space for berimbau improvisation, but limited to a variation within the
context of the capoeira toque.m
Rescala utilized conventional notation that was embraced by many vanguarda
composers, and devised graphic notational symbols in order for the live musician to
interpret the taped recording: "It was a notation that was proportional with the
measures of conventional notationand metrically made to correspond with the
pauses, [and] the tape contained the pauses while the musician was playing alone"
(Rescala 2000-int). Presently, Rescala uses the berimbau notational scheme
developed by D' Anunciac.ao in 1990 (see CD track 28).
"Pe<ja para Berimbau e Fita Magnetica" begins with a prerecorded tape
composed of sound elements from a completely deconstructed berimbau as if it were
a part of a science fiction construction project (0:00). Following more than a minute
of these berimbau sounds that have been filtered through a series of pitch, velocity
and timbre modulations, the acoustic berimbau enters (1:10). The sound of the
acoustic berimbau is a reassuring familiar sound, but the pitch of the berimbau begins
to destabilize due to a subtle change in the coin position on the string. The berimbau
begins to search for more tones, and eventually the recorded tape joins along with low
bass-style tones (2:08). The acoustic berimbau then explores various timbres, and the
tape moves from clear tones to white noise timbral distortion (3:37) building in
intensity until a silent pause. An acoustic caxixi enters (3:46), whose sound is almost
shocking due to the clarity in the timbre following the distortion from the previous

163

See E Galra (1997) and D'Anuncia^ao (1990a) for discussion of these rules.

247

tape passage. When the tape returns to some of the science fiction types of sounds
(4:11), it sounds less out of context when accompanied with the indeterminate pitch
of the caxixi. A recorded section then takes precedence, which features many
modified berimbau sounds (4:51), some of which simulate a whistling tea kettle. The
acoustic berimbau re-enters (5:10) and exhibits a more agitated timbral exploration of
microtones, pitch bending and tapping on the gourd. This acoustic berimbau cadenza
is accompanied by a recorded berimbau featuring the essence of a capoeira toque, in a
different tempo (6:54). This recorded passage is slowly faded into the mix, yet it
never completely overtakes the acoustic berimbau. A recorded low-pitched note
enters (7:25), which evokes a low-pitched bell tolling in the distance. These recorded
notes serve as a base for a final acoustic berimbau cadenza. During this exchange, a
brief passage exhibits the recorded tape featuring a clear tone, and the acoustic
berimbau featuring primarily timbral sounds (8:12). The final recorded tape sound is
a pitch bend in an upward direction (8:33), possibly signaling the acoustic musician
the a final exploration (8:47), and conclusion with a decisive closing motif.
Rescala remembers a positive reception of the piece by the public, an interest
in both the berimbau and the manner in which he manipulated the sound elements.
One of the strongest aspects of this work draws upon his understanding of audience
expectations and assumptions regarding the berimbau, including perceptions of
limited melodic potential.
There's a curiosity here in Brazil, as everyone here knows the instrument, and
they're enchanted with the berimbau. And principally, in this piece as well,
because in this piece there's a timbristic exploration of the part of the
instrument that exists between these two notes, and I think the curiosity is that

248
people don't know what's between the two notes, such as the timbres and
rhythms, because they're not important to the people (Rescala 2000-int).
In this regard, Rescala is implying that Brazilian audiences place primary importance
on pitched as opposed to unpitched sounds, perhaps because pitched sounds are more
familiar than a broad array of timbres. D'Anunciacao expands on this concept by
observing that the berimbau not only spans across these pitched and unpitched
domains, but lives between them, and continually shifts from one to another and also
produces both simultaneously. He views this important duality of berimbau sound
production as a mixture of indeterminate and determined sound.
In capoeira, [the berimbau] is used as an indeterminate sound, but you can
[also] tune the berimbau, since the fundamental tone [can] emit one from the
musical scale--a do, or a re, or a sol, etcand this determined sound, mixed
with the repique and the caxixi, indeterminate [sounds], proportions a richness
of very interesting options, combined with a very strong rhythmic constancy,
that creates an atmosphere beyond the ordinary (D'Anunciaao in Capoeira
2000:116).
D'Anunciaao believes that Rescala was able to explore a broad array of
timbres precisely because he remained within the domain of four principal sounds
that comprise the berimbau's sound structure within the context of capoeira: two
fundamental pitched berimbau tones, the repique, and the caxixi. He notes that if a
berimbau were called upon to perform melodic scales, it would cease to be what is
commonly assumed to be the berimbau. As an example, he cites American Composer
John Cage's development of the prepared piano, which emits a broad array of
timbres, and thus "stops being the piano" (D'Anunciacao 2001-int:23 May).
Rescala realized that Brazilian audiences have expectations about the
berimbau within the confines of a capoeira or folkloric context. Brazilians "know

249
more or less about the berimbau. But I think the surprise is to see it in another
context, which isn't a traditional context. And it exists in other cases, with the
berimbau and concert [music], but not this type of work" (Rescala 2000-int).
Although he does not remember the name of the specific capoeira toque used in his
composition, he places emphasis on audience recognition of the berimbau's existence
within a capoeira sound space, thus bringing his work to an exciting and discernible
conclusion, by fulfilling their expectations. Since this work begins with unknown and
abstract timbres, the resolution is amplified by the arrival at the familiar sound of the
berimbau playing a familiar toque from capoeira.
Present at the premiere of Rescala's work, Brazilian composer Ricardo
Tacuchian164 recalls that the piece had a "very advanced language... amplified the
berimbau... and [was] very interesting" (Tacuchian 2001-int). Over twenty years
later, he does not remember the specifics of the actual work, but he has retained a
strong positive impression from that specific occasion.
The good impression that I had about that piece was as a musical piece.
Finished, well resolved, well structured, and [Rescala] explored the berimbau
with propriety, with technological recourses... I remember that the integration
of the instrument with the tape that he prepared was really equilibrated. I
confess that I saw this piece [a long time ago]... I never heard it again, and
after so much time. I still remember that it signified a good piece, which I
haven't forgotten. When a piece isn't any good, you forget it right away
(Tacuchian 2001-int).

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Ricardo Tacuchian (1.1/18/39) studied composition with notable Brazilian composers, including
Francisco Mignone and CMudio Santoro. His compositional style pushes the boundaries of
expectations found in the concert hall. In 1988 he composed the nonet "Rio/L.A.," which is scored for
"instruments that are infrequently used in concert music, including the electric bass, cutca and the
agogd, and elements of other musical styles, such as jazz, samba and pop" (761). He has developed a
musical-structure system called "Sistema-T," which is the basis of his doctoral dissertation, and is a
compositional tool that he continues to draw upon in his present works (Marcondes 2000:761).

250
In early 2001, Rescala attempted to locate copies of the various tape
recordings from this work. Unfortunately, all of his tapes had disintegrated or were
not playable on a reel-to-reel tape deck. Rescala is certain that he could re-construct
the entire performance tape through the use of computer sound editing programs. As
a result, this process would take much less time to create than the original. He is
interested in composing additional pieces for the berimbau, and he has schematically
conceived of some ideas, but he has not been able to develop them, due to demands
from other compositional projects and commissions.

Conclusion
Ganguzama separates itself from previous works of Brazilian art music that
have incorporated African-derived themes because it used the berimbau as an
extension of the Quilombola's voice. This enables the Quilombola character to make
a statement and pause to reflect while the berimbau responds. The limitations that
Tavares encountered when he incorporated the berimbau into this composition
eventually inspired Luiz D'Anunciagao to develop a comprehensive notational
scheme for this musical bow, as well as other Brazilian percussion instruments. This
has opened up an extraordinary opportunity for creating sophisticated compositions
that draw upon the berimbau's rich palette of timbres. D'Anunciacao's Divertimento
para Berimbau e Violao serves as a model of how this type of Brazilian art music
composition could be conceived.

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When other capoeira scholars and art music composers adapted and modified
D'Anunciagao's concepts or created their own symbol-based notation, he returned to
what he considers to be universal aspects of conventional notation. D'Anunciagao's
revised notational scheme is now used or promoted by Brazilian composers, including
Ricardo Tacuchian, Nelson Macedo, Mario Tavares, Tim Rescala, and dozens of
D'Anunciac,ao's percussion students, suggesting that this revised approach may prove
to become a standard notational scheme.
Tim Rescala's "Pec, a para Berimbau e Fita Magne"tica" demonstrates that
unfamiliar sounds can be come familiar and vice versa. Through his extensive
processing of berimbau sound sources, in conjunction with a rich palette of acoustic
timbres, Rescala has created a work that not only begs one to reconsider the timbral
possibilities of the berimbau, but to question what is a "normal" sound. Through this
process, he extends the conceptual range of the berimbau into another dimension, and
opens the door for future inquisitive explorations of this type.
In 2001, another episode was added to the continuing story of berimbau
notation. After Mario Tavares shared his performance recordings of Ganguzama with
me, I then played the recordings for D'Anunciagao, who performed the berimbau
passage. D'Anunciacao then transcribed the 1999 performance into his revised
musical notation scheme, and soon thereafter, intended to present this to Tavares as a
formal berimbau part that he could interleaf within the pages of his score. I am not
sure whether this event transpired, but this gesture symbolically represented a final
solution to Tavares's notational dilemma that spanned nearly fifty years.

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Chapter Six
Conclusion

The berimbau is a unique case study within world music cultures, as it is a


musical instrument that is representative of a tradition that has been continually
modified and incorporated into many musical genres throughout Brazil and the rest of
the world. Although the berimbau has experienced dramatic movement across social
and musical boundaries, it has not lost its identity as an African-derived Brazilian
musical bow. As the result of many years as an observer and performing musician, I
have been able to reconstruct the history of the berimbau by drawing upon historical
and ethnographic information. In the preceding chapters I have presented the
berimbau's trajectory across a broad range of Brazilian social, cultural and musical
contexts, demonstrating how it became a symbol of identity and resistance in Brazil.
At this point in the discussion, I can now address of the breadth of the berimbau's
presence in Brazilian music and culture through analysis from three principal
perspectives: the berimbau's association with capoeira; how it functions in relation to
a nationalist Brazilian identity; and the berimbau as a physical and emblematic
commodity. A brief summary will first highlight the berimbau's position in a
historical perspective.
During the colonial era, the berimbau was a musical, instrument used by
enslaved Africans and their descendants during times of work and leisure. Slave

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owners encouraged the use of African-derived musical instruments to attract attention
in the public markets. Nineteenth century chroniclers frequently noted the
berimbau's presence in public marketplaces and on slave plantations, and they
provided illustrations and brief descriptions of the instrument itself and its use in
conjunction with dance.
Since the abolition of slavery in 1888, the berirnbau became less visible in
public marketplaces, due in part to dominant social pressures that strived to distance
Brazil from its legacy of slavery by de-emphasizing African-derived forms of
expression. The berimbau rebounded to obtain a prominent position in Brazilian
music and culture, most likely due to its formal alignment with capoeira in the early
twentieth century. Since both the berimbau and capoeira have survived to the present
day, they have been reinterpreted by Afro-Brazilians as powerful symbols of
resistance. The berimbau moved from a regional Bahian to a national musical
instrument in the late 1950s and early 1960s, largely disseminated through popular
Brazilian music. The berimbau then began moving into global musical contexts in
the early 1970s. Similar migrations of capoeira practitioners followed each of these
expansions, providing additional visibility for the berimbau.
Since the berimbau has been primarily explored within the context of
capoeira, I revisit historical documents to pursue alternative explanations of how,
why, and when the berimbau became formally associated with capoeira, and how it
functioned in relation to dance. For example, Kubik (1979) hypothesizes that the
berimbau did not become formally associated with capoeira prior to the turn of the

254

twentieth century, and E. Travassos (2000:63) observes that eighteenth century


documents captured the berirabau as a musical instrument "without any dance or fight
associations." By considering additional colonial-era berimbau references beyond
those cited by Kubik (1979), Shaffer (1982) and Lewis (1992), further and stronger
associations between the musical bow and dance movements become clear,
demonstrating a connection between musical bows and dance well before the turn of
the twentieth century. Viewed from this perspective, the berimbau's association with
capoeira was likely part of an extended process of integration involving many
African-derived instruments, including drums, xylophones and lamellophones.
Perhaps the berimbau's successful incorporation into capoeira was a result of its
portability and low cost, as well as its ability to call less attention to the practice, by
producing less volume than the drums depicted in colonial era paintings of capoeira.
On the other hand, since drums produce more volume than the berimbau, foreign
chroniclers may have been drawn to instances in which capoeira was accompanied by
drums, resulting in the images that were captured in their notes and illustrations.
By looking at the social function of the berimbau within the realm of capoeira,
other clues emerge that demonstrate how the berimbau achieved a prominent status.
Kubik (1979) suggests that the berimbau became associated with capoeira around the
turn of the twentieth century as a means to reinforce the central African cultural roots
of the art form. As capoeira changed from a fight to a dance the berimbau became an
inseparable element of the martial art. The berimbau likely became a neutral thirdparty among capoeiristas who encountered each other for informal exhibitions on the

255
streets of Bahia, Instead of subordinating oneself to the individual who was in charge
of the dance proceedings, the berimbau's music metaphorically became the game's
referee. The citation above from Ribeyrolles demonstrates that the berimbau
decisively controlled the dance tempo in other musical genres since the 1850s, so it is
plausible that participants were accustomed to the berimbau as a controlling agent
within the dance sphere. Dinho Nascimento (2001-int), who observed informal
capoeira encounters on the streets of Bahia in the 1950s, believes that the berimbau
was incorporated into capoeira as a means to bring order to a street fight that had no
rules. From this perspective, the berimbau assumed the function as a third-party
negotiator. In order to participate in informal capoeira dance encounters, dance
practitioners may have entered into a mutual agreement of respect for this third-party
object, as opposed to subordinating themselves to the authority of another individual.
While spiritual associations in relation to the berimbau vary among individual
capoeiristas, the fundamental rule that the melodic rhythms of the berimbau must be
obeyed is a principle unanimously agreed upon by all participants.
The union of the berimbau and capoeira can be seen as a key element to their
survival and upward mobility. As independent elements, both the berimbau and
capoeira were social outcasts: the berimbau a distinctly identifiable instrument of
black Brazilian culture, and capoeira, a combative slave-based fight that threatened
social order. Following their union, they emerged in tandem to become symbols of
national identity. Through this cultural ascension, capoeira moved towards inclusion
in the middle classes and in wealthier neighborhoods. As a result of this process,

256
both capoeira and the berimbau have lost aspects of their cultural roots, most
noticeably in the form of capoeira classes being offered in urban gymnasiums
alongside aerobics and other gymnastic fitness activities.165
Organological change in the berimbau may have also played a key part in the
berimbau's ascent in Brazilian society. Richard Graham (1991) suggests that the
physical modifications in gourd-resonated musical bows that resulted in the modernday berimbau assisted with its upward mobility. Through this process, the berimbau
has become representative of a mixture of various musical bows, and therefore reemerged as a musical instrument with a uniquely Brazilian heritage. Although the
berimbau successfully underwent this transformation, it continues to be associated
with folkloric expression, black music, the lower classes, and primitivism in Brazilian
society.
It is in capitalizing on notions of primitiveness where berimbau musicians
have been most successful. By taking advantage of its audience's assumptions,
berimbau composers and performers have surprised and surpassed audience
expectations by demonstrating that the berimbau can present a rich palette of musical
timbres. This notion extends to berimbau solos at folkloric shows that I have
observed both within Brazil and on international tours to the United States.
Nevertheless, these notions of primitiveness serve as an important link to reinforcing

165

I recall an early 2001 Jornal do Brasil newspaper article that was introducing a new capoeira
academy compound in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. These buildings were designed as a senzala
(slave quarters) replica, yet they had also installed a swimming pool, and they were offering classes in
"hydro-capoeira."

257
the berimbau's African-derived heritage that maintains its character as a Brazilian
musical bow.
The berimbau has helped to define concepts of national, collective and
individual identity in various eras. In this regard, the 1960s music of Baden Powell
served to promote the berimbau in Brazilian popular music. This use of the berimbau
was representative of national ideals that drew upon its presence as a folkloric
instrument, which in turn added elements of Brazilian authenticity to the musical
compositions. The music of Gilberto Gil drew upon this icon to integrate Brazilian
and non-Brazilian musical and cultural elements within a contested musical arena.
Whereas Powell saw himself as literally putting all of Bahia's history and culture into
his musical compositions, Gil consciously incorporated the acoustic berimbau for the
purpose of balancing his use of electric guitars, rock and roll, and other non-Brazilian
musical elements in popular music festivals.
In contrast, the groups Berimbrown and Olodum also draw upon the berimbau
to represent authenticity, which in turn helps to construct an alternative identity.
Livio Sansone (1999) demonstrates how the berimbau and capoeira are components
of an expansive symbol bank that is used for the construction of a pan-African
identity among young black Brazilians. This strategy is enacted to deny traditional
models presented to them through Brazilian nationalist ideologies. Berimbrown cofounder mestre Negativo (2001-int) comments that the various fashion styles
exhibited in the musical ensemble represent distinct African-American fashion trends
from various eras. He believes that the complete group image represents a summary

258
of his life experience. During his youth, Negativo participated in the bailes da pesada
that traveled to Minas Gerais, and he accompanied the musical spirit of protest that
emerged from the Bahian blocos afro. The multiple identities that coexist in
Berirnbrown can also be extended to represent the diverse realm of individual
perspectives that comprise contemporary Afro-Brazilian identity.
As the berimbau becomes adapted for use in diverse musical contexts, it is
being modified technically and organologically to accommodate different needs.
Within this process, the berimbau is becoming more distanced from the capoeira
tradition. What emerges, as a common universal among innovative berimbau
musicians and composers, is an active pursuit of expanding the berimbau's musical
potential. Nana" Vasconcelos's principal contribution is a unique approach to
melodic-rhythmic improvisation inspired by rhythmic ideas derived from other multitimbral percussion instruments, such as the drumset. Luiz D'Anuncia^ao has
removed the caxixi and developed a two-stick technique in order to expand the
technical capabilities of berimbau sound combinations. This technique greatly
enhances the berimbau's use within the realm of art music compositions, since there
is now a broader range of expression available without losing the distinctive timbres
that identify the sound of the berimbau. Dinho Nascimento has incorporated
innovative technical and physical changes in order to accommodate his musical
inspirations that include using the berimbau in music that he defines as the blues.
Ramiro Musotto uses a different material for the resonating gourd, which accentuates
the sound of the movement of the gourd against and away from the body. In most of

259
the preceding cases, the berimbau's volume must be enhanced by electronic
amplification, since these modifications tend to reduce the instrument's overall sound
production.
As the berimbau becomes distanced from the realm of capoeira and appears in
alternative performance contexts, it undergoes physical modifications that change its
sonority. Through this movement across contexts, questions arise concerning when it
ceases to be the berimbau and begins to emerge as something else? In other words,
how far can tradition be transformed and still be representative of that initial
referential? Since tradition is constantly changing, are new meanings representative
of that tradition? In order to answer these questions, I return to the composer and
performer who popularized the berimbau in Brazilian popular music in the early
1960s, Baden Powell. In his composition "Berimbau," Powell translated the melodic
rhythms to his guitar, which helped propel him to national and international success.
When he composed "Lapinha" in the late 1960s, he was accused of stealing from, and
thus disrespecting the tradition. In the case of "Berimbau," it could be argued that
Powell was transforming folkloric material from one intimate object to another: from
the berimbau to the guitar. In "Lapinha," he borrowed an entire song for use as a
refrain to frame his newly-composed verse. In this case, Powell extracted melodic
and textual material that contained respected historical references within the capoeira
tradition.
Powell used the same compositional process of drawing upon folkloric
material for incorporation into both compositions, but "Lapinha" touched a cultural

260

nerve. On the surface, it could be said that Powell only failed to correctly attribute
the folkloric source. An analysis of the source capoeira song's roots reveals that
music within the realm of anonymous capoeira material may have strong links to
other Brazilian musical genres. "Lapinha" and another capoeira song "E Besouro"
are both related to Noel Rosa's 1932 nationally popular samba tune, "Fita Amarela."
Rosa claimed authorship for a samba that had apparently been informally circulating
throughout Rio de Janeiro samba circles. This suggests the possibility that sometime
between the early 1930s and the late 1950s, when mestre Trafra's version of "E
Besouro" was recorded, that "Fita Amarela" may have been transformed into a
capoeira song. "Lapinha" has been adapted from either "E Besouro," "Fita Amarela,"
or possibly both.
On the other hand, the version of "Fita Amarela" that was circulating
throughout Rio de Janeiro samba encounters could have migrated with Banians
around the turn of the twentieth century. In this light, the song that became "Fita
Amarela" could have been initially derived in Bahia, traveled to Rio de Janeiro, and
then revitalized in Bahia following Rosa's success.
Nevertheless, this demonstrates a similar process of music making among
urban sambistas of Rio de Janeiro and urban capoeiristas of Salvador, where similar
songs circulated freely from session to session. This also demonstrates the tenuous
nature of "traditional" music. In this light, when capoeira practitioners accused
Baden Powell of stealing from the tradition, which tradition were they defending, the
samba or the capoeira tradition? If it is the capoeira tradition, does it represent the

261
1900s to the present that is inseparable from the berimbau, or does it stem from an
earlier era? Greg Downey (1998) comments that "E Besouro" breaks many
conventional rules of capoeira song structures, but he believes that since it is a
popular song among capoeira practitioners, exceptions to the rules have their place
within the capoeira tradition and history. These exceptions are necessary, since the
roots of the song may have been derived from a different tradition. Returning to the
question of when the berimbau stops being the berimbau, perhaps the question should
be rephrased, when does capoeira stop being capoeira?
As the berimbau has transcended social classes and racial boundaries, its
socio-political movement has constantly been questioned. Since lower class black
Brazilians have had limited access to social ascension in Brazilian society, the
berimbau symbolically represents a possibility of cultural ascension. As Dinho
Nascimento candidly discussed, his musical innovations were met with resistance
from both within and beyond the capoeira community, but perceptions from these two
camps turned positive only after Nascimento's recording received the Sharp Prize
(equivalent to a Brazilian Grammy Award).
Nana" Vasconcelos, most visibly perceived in Brazil as the individual who
moved the berimbau into a global music context, did not become nationally
recognized until he achieved international success with Gato Barbieri, Pat Metheny,
Egberto Gismonti, Don Cherry and Colin Wolcott, and many others. Although
Vasconcelos has become internationally renowned, his non-mainstream artistic vision
has resulted in the majority of his recordings being produced by non-Brazilian record

262
companies. Vasconcelos has also benefited from non-Brazilian audiences who were
not familiar with the berimbau or capoeira, and he therefore was not obligated to
conform to cultural norms as dictated by the tradition of capoeira.
Since Ramiro Musotto is from Argentina, he was able to pursue innovations
as a cultural outsider, who showed respect for the tradition by immersing himself into
Brazilian culture, and developed less radical performance techniques than
Nascimento. Musotto extends conventional berimbau performance practice by
incorporating metric modulation and creating new arrangements of multi-layered
berimbau textures that follow principles established through the capoeira tradition.
In addition to observing the berimbau's movement across social boundaries,
other aspects such as the commoditization of this musical bow must be considered.
This commoditization can be seen in two principal forms: actual berimbaus and
representational berimbaus. Actual berimbaus include mass-produced (by hand) lowquality tourist berimbaus of various sizes, medium-quality berimbaus that are
available in music stores, and capoeira berimbaus, often handmade from capoeira
academies and practitioners, which are very heavy. Representational berimbaus
include jewelry, capoeira academy logos, tattoos, and numerous examples found in
Brazilian fine arts (paintings, sculptures), public spaces (telephone booths), and
literary arts. The berirabau also supports dramatic roles, such as the Quilombola or
Preto Velho presented in Mario Tavares's Ganguzama, who appears to tell of Zumbi
dos Palmares's death, In this case, the berimbau is representative of an elderly wise
African-derived spirit.

263
Deeper connections can be seen regarding spiritual associations with musical
bows in the African diaspora. In Cuba, the burumbumba is believed to speak with the
dead in African-derived religious practice (Ortiz in Rego 1968). In Brazil, the
berimbau is played at some Brazilian capoeiristas' funerals. Other examples ranging
from capoeira performance practice and children's' books (Coelho 2000) suggest that
the berimbau metaphorically joins ancestors with the spirits to create the present.
These concepts are supported by similar multi-dimensional concepts found in central
African spiritual beliefs (Thompson 1983). Raul Bopp's imagery in the poem
"Urucungo" utilizes the berimbau as a history of feelings. By focusing on enslaved
Africans who have been stripped of their history, Bopp depicts their only retained
memories from their distant homeland as "lamenting in the gourd" of the berimbau
(Bopp in Cameiro 1981:23-24).
Through the process of using the berimbau as a focal point, one can compare
various types of music in Brazil. For example, comparisons can be made between
electroacoustic music composed for the concert hall and electronic dance music
composed for nightclubs. The setting for the former is designed to keep audience
members in their seats whereas the latter is designed to keep the audience out of their
seats and on the dance floor. Although these settings are vastly different, parallels
can be seen in the compositional processes of vanguarda composer Tim Rescala and
the electronic dance music of M4J and Ram Science. In each case, the berimbau has
been recorded or sampled, electronically processed and repackaged in a new sound
environment. While the electronic dance composers modify the berimbau material,

264
they are somewhat confined to the limits of the dance genres that they work in. The
case of M4J demonstrates how a lyrical organic sounding sample from Nan
Vasconcelos can dramatically change through increased tempo and raised pitch. A
comparison with the original Vasconcelos song highlights aspects of Vasconcelos's
musicianship and how he subtly modifies a rhythmic cell over various repetitions as a
means to generate excitement. The M4J cross-section of this small fragment of
Vasconcelos's work reduces the sound to a mechanically repetitive expressionless
machine.
Ramilson Maia of Ram Science takes a different approach than M4J, by
taking short berimbau fragments, and through an additive process, building a multilayered berimbau drum machine. In contrast, Tim Rescala's work demonstrates
another universe of expressive possibilities, since the composer has absolute freedom
to create, and is not obligated to produce his work on top of a repetitive bass drum
beat.
Rescala's composition is successful for two reasons. First, he combined the
allure of technology with an acoustic berimbau performer to accompany the prerecorded tape. Second, he completely deconstructed an extensive timbre spectrum
from the berimbau, and reconstructed processed elements of this realm on electronic
tape. As an added component, he created a soundscape that makes the listener
question which sounds should be emitted from the berimbau, and which sounds
should be emitted from the speakers.

265
An example that questions the boundaries between art and popular music in
Brazilian society can be seen in the 1960s bossa nova and popular Brazilian music
recordings by Baden Powell and Gilberto Gil. Powell's Afro Sambas recording was
orchestrated and conducted by Cesar Guerra-Peixe, and Gilberto Gil's "Domingo no
Parque" was orchestrated and conducted by Rog6rio Duprat, both prominent art
music composers. Although art music and popular music have different societal
functions, these recordings demonstrate that the concert halls of Theatre Municipal
and the airwaves of nationally televised popular song festivals were not as remotely
disconnected as indicated by the separate genre labels.
The development of a comprehensive berimbau notational scheme has also
helped to establish a presence for the musical bow in recent years. As a result of
these innovations, the berimbau can now equally participate in compositional terms
with other developed art music instruments. Prior to these innovations beginning in
the 1970s, the berimbau was relegated to the percussion section as an accessory
instrument, which served to establish and maintain a rhythmic base for musical
compositions. With the development of musical notation in the style of
D'Anunciacao's revised scheme (1990a), every note and timbre can be graphically
represented in a systematic manner, and then be consistently reproduced by the
musician. Moreover, through D'Anunciacao's methodological approach, musicians
and composers from around the world can approach a comprehensive understanding
of the broad range of sounds produced by the berimbau, without setting foot in Brazil.

266
As scholars begin to trace the berimbau's movement throughout the world
(Graham and Robinson 2003), it will be imperative to collect ethnographic data from
all berimbau specialists who are creating new techniques and developing
organological modifications for use in new local contexts. Information from these
informants can then be compared and contrasted with data presented in this
dissertation as a means to construct a comprehensive image of the berimbau's
meaning and significance in a global perspective.
There are still many aspects to be pursued about the berimbau in Brazilian
music and culture. During my research, I encountered many art music works that
utilize berimbau, and a comparative study could demonstrate an understanding of
how the berimbau has functioned in each of these contexts. Moreover, a survey of
the berimbau in Brazilian popular music lyrics could lead to a deeper understanding
of the berimbau's presence within the imagery of song texts. A comparative study of
the berimbau in relation to other folk musical instruments that have been incorporated
into art music contexts, such as the Hungarian cimbalom and the Spanish guitar,
would highlight the berimbau's case as a unique instrument in world music cultures.
In the case of the berimbau, it is an instrument that has been incorporated into diverse
musical contexts, while simultaneously maintaining its identity as a Brazilian musical
bow.

267

Glossary

Afro samba

Term applied to Baden Powell's and Vimcius de Moraes's bossa nova


music that incorporated elements of Afro-Brazilian themes including
capoeira, the berimbau, and candomble.

Afro-Mineiro Regional application of the term Afro-Brazilian. Mineiro is in


reference to the state of Minas Gerais.
Agogo

Metal double-bell played with a stick.

Alfaia

Double headed rope tensioned drum used in Maracatu, a congado


from Pernambuco.

Antropofagia Term used by modernist poet Oswald de Andrade to signify cultural


cannibalism. The principle of this concept is that for Brazil to create
national works of art, Brazilian culture producers should consume, or
incorporate techniques from European masters, while simultaneously
focusing within Brazil's borders for thematic inspiration.
Baiao

Northeastern music and dance form. Representative of the desert-like


sertao region, often played with accordion, triangle and zabumba
(small bass drum)

Bailes da
Pesada

Term applied to popular music dances that emerged in Rio de Janeiro


in the 1970s. These dances featured recordings of North American
popular music artists such as James Brown and the Jackson Five.
Recent manifestations derived from these initial dances include the
"bailes do funk."

Bandeirantes Expeditionary forces who explored Brazil's hinterlands during the


colonial era under a unified bandeira (flag).
Batuque

Name of secular dance of central African origin. Generic name for


Afro-Brazilian drumming and dance styles.

Berimbau

Generic name used in Brazil to signify gourd-resonated musical bows.


Term is also applied to Jew's harp and mouth bows. For description,
see Berimbau de barriga.

268
Berimbau
de barriga

"Berimbau of the belly." Signifies gourd-resonated musical bow that


developed in Brazil descended from various African musical bows.
Consists of a wooden bow, calabash gourd, stone or coin, steel string,
caxixi and small stick. The stone or coin is used to interrupt the
vibrations of the string and alter the pitch and timbre.

Bloco afro

Afro-Brazilian carnival parading group that emerged in Salvador in the


mid-1970s. Some associations such as Olodum, have become yearround institutions that provide economic and social opportunities for
their community. The plural is blocos afro.

Bossa nova

"New Way." Musical genre that developed and flourished in the late
1950s until the early 1960s. Incorporated elements of samba and
North American jazz.

Candomble

Yoruba derived religion based on the balances of nature's forces.


Orixds represent individual elements of nature. Enslaved Africans
openly worshipped Catholic saints, while observing similarities
between particular Orixds and saints, thus leading to elements of
syncretism. Candomble includes strict instrumentation of three singleheaded drums of various sizes.

Capoeira

Dance of possible Central African origin that incorporates qualities of


acrobatics and martial arts to varying degrees. Capoeira was used as a
fight among Africans and Afro-Brazilians during slavery and in the
early post-abolition years in Brazil. Since the 1930s, it has
transformed from a fight into a non-contact exhibition, leading
practitioners to characterize it as a "game." Capoeira incorporates
musical accompaniment, which includes the use of one or more
berimbaus.

Capoeira
Angola

Modern style of capoeira that symbolically represents a continuation


of the capoeira tradition. Generally characterized as slow game with
"closed" body movements, by maintaining the body closer to the
ground. Today, a three-berimbau ensemble of various sizes is strictly
observed.

Capoeira
Regional

Modern style of capoeira that has incorporated elements of the


batuque and other aspects of martial art aesthetics. Generally
characterized as a fast game with "open" body movements, featuring
longer extensions, and thus farther from the ground. Musical
ensembles may feature one or more berimbaus.

269
Capoeirista

Individual whose activities exist almost exclusively within the realm


of capoeira.

Carnival

Pre-Lenten public celebration that precedes Ash Wednesday.


Celebrated in Catholic countries, and to a lesser extent in New
Orleans. In Portuguese, carnaval.

Caxixi

Basket rattle that accompanies the berimbau de barriga.

Choro

Urban instrumental music developed in late nineteenth century Rio de


Janeiro. Sub genres and influences include tangos, waltzes and polkas,
among others. Rhythmic characteristics accentuate syncopation.

Congada

Dance procession that evokes essences of African royalty. The


procession is to signify the coronation ceremony of the "Rei do
Congo" (King of the Congo). During slavery, this figure served as an
intermediary between enslaved populations and the slave owner.

Congopop

Term derived by Berimbrown to signify their unique synthesis of


global and local popular music styles.

Cuica

Single-headed drum with bamboo stick attached to the center of the


head. Sound is produced through friction by rubbing a damp cloth
along the stick.

Escola de
Samba

"Samba School." Neighborhood carnival associations that emerged in


underdeveloped Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods in the late 1920s.
These associations exist to varying degrees throughout Brazil, now
provide many social services to their community throughout the year.

Folia de Reis Religious musical ensembles that perform in the streets in December
and January. Also related to Three Kings Day celebrations.
Funk
(Brazilian)

Used in the 1970s to signify North American black pop music, notably
artists like James Brown and the Jackson Five. Since the 1990s, this
term has expanded to included Brazilian electronic musics that are
somewhat related to North American hip-hop, house, techno, etc.
Sansone (2001) provides extended definitions of local usages of funk
in various regions throughout Brazil

Jogo

Game. Often used by capoeira practitioners to describe the dance of


capoeira.

270
Lundu

Central African song and dance form that is related to many urban
Brazilian song styles including the samba.

Mameluco

Baby of indigenous and Portuguese heritage.

Marimba

10-or 12-key wooden xylophone with gourd resonators of central


African origin. It is no longer used in Brazil.

Mestizaje/
Mesticagem

Process of cultural mixing and whitening in Brazil. Ideology is based


upon the concept that Brazil's population is comprised of a mixture of
African, indigenous and Portuguese heritages. Through mixing these
elements over many generations, preferred aspects would be enhanced,
and supposed less desirable aspects would be eliminated.

Mestre

Master. Used to demarcate advanced capoeira practitioner. The status


of mestre is obtained following an extended apprenticeship.

Modinha

Sentimental song style that is representative of a mixture between the


lundu and Portuguese influences.

MPB
(Miisica
Popular
Brasileira)

Acronym for Musica Popular Brasileira (Popular Brazilian music).


Emerged as popular musical genre that followed bossa nova and
featured combinations of many Brazilian and non-Brazilian musical
genres. Now signifies general Brazilian popular music.

Qrixa"

Deity within candomble. Each represents an element of nature, such


Xango, the god of thunder, Yemanjd, the goddess of the sea, etc.
Balances between these forces are often maintained by Exu, the
guardian of the crossroads.

Preto Velho

"Old black man." Represents the purified spirits of ancient enslaved


Africans in Brazil within the religious practice of umbanda.

Quilombo

Encampments of enslaved people who escaped to freedom in Brazil

Quilombola

Resident of the quilombo.

Roda

Circle. Demarcates dance space in many genres of Brazilian dance,


particularly samba and capoeira. The circle is formed by musicians
and dance participants.

Samba

Most popular form of Brazilian song and dance of central African,


Portuguese, and (to a lesser extent) North American influences.
Features a two-beat rhythmic repetition alternating between light and

271
heavy emphasis. Multiple rhythmic cells are built upon this
framework, establishing an interlocking syncopation that creates
distinct musical personalities for each of the separate percussion
instruments.
Samba de
Roda

Samba danced within a circle. Often includes Brazilian percussion


instruments such as the pandeiro (tambourine), timbal (long conical
drum), handclapping and singing.

Samba reggae Musical style synthesis of samba and Jamaican reggae, developed and
popularized by the bloco afro Olodum. Drumming style incorporates
percussion instruments from the escola de samba with techniques
derived from candomble,
Sambista

Individual whose activities exist almost exclusively within the realm


of samba.

Toque

Short repetitive rhythmic cell, also can be translated as "beat."

Tumbadora

Term for a conga (conical) drum.

Umbanda

Religion that has syncretized Afro-Brazilian religious practice,


spiritism and Catholicism. Developed in the twentieth century.

Vanguarda

Term used to signify avant-garde art music in Brazil in the 1960s and
1970s.

272

Appendix A: Song Lyrics


1. "Berimbau"
Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes (Powell 1963-disc)
Quern homem de bem nao trai
O amor que the quer sen bem
Quern diz muito que vem nao vai
E assim como nao vai nao vem
Quern de dentro de si nao sai
Vai morrer sem amar ninguem
O dinheiro de quern nao da
. o trabalho de quern nao tern
Capoeira que e bom nao cai
Se um dia ele cai, cai bem

Capoeira me mandou, dizer que


jd chegou
Chegou para lutar
Berimbau me confirmou
vai ter briga de amor
Tristeza camard.

166

A good man doesn't betray


The love who wishes him well
One who often says he'll come,
won't go
And as much as he will not go,
will not return
One who does not open up from
within will not go
Will die without loving anyone
The money of the one who
Does not give
Is the work of those who do not
have166
A skillful capoeirista will not fall
And if one day he does fall, he
will fall well
Another capoeirista sent me to
say that he has
just arrived
Arrived ready to fight
Berimbau confirmed to me
that there will be a fight for love
Sadness, friend

The money of the landowner is that of a person who does not know how to give. This is the result
of the worker who does not have any money. If you have too much money, it is because someone else
does not have any (C Nascimento 2004-int).

273
2. "Lapinha"
Baden Powell and Paulo Cesar Pinheiro (Various Artists 1968-disc)
Chorus:
Quando eu morrer
Me enterrem no, Lapinha
Calga-culote, paletdAlmofadinha
Vai, meu lamento vai contar
Toda a tristeza de viver
Ai, a verdade sempre doi
E as vezes traz
Um mal a mats
Ai, so me fez dilacerar
Ver tanta gente se entregar
Mas nao me conformei
Indo contra a lei
Sei que nao me arrependi
Tenho um pedido so
Ultimo talvez
Antes de partir.

When I die
Bury me in Lapinha
In nice soft
Fashionable clothes
All the sadness of living, go tell
All of the sadness that I've lived
Ah, the truth always hurts
And at times brings
One more ache
Ah, tore me up
To see so many people turn
themselves in
But I did not agree
Going against the law
I know that I did not regret
I only have one request
Perhaps the last one
Before I leave:

Chorus
Sai, minha magoa sai de mim
Hd tanto coragdo ruim...
Ai, & tdo desesperador
O amor perder
P'ro desamor
Ah, tanto erro vi - lutei
E como perdedor gritei
Que eu sou um homem so
Sem poder mudar
Nunca mats vou lastimar
Tenho um pedido sd
Cltimo talvez
Antes de Partir,
Chorus

Leave my sorrow, leave me


There are so many evil hearts.
There, it is so hopeless
To lose one's love
And affection
Ah, so many mistakes-I saw
and I fought
And as a loser I shouted
That I am only one man
Who can't change
I will never complain again
I only have one request
Perhaps the last
Before I leave:

274
Adeus Bahia, zumzumzum,
Cordao de Ouro
Eu vou partir,
Porque mataram meu Besouro
Adeus Bahia, zumzumzum,
Cordao de Ouro
Eu vou partir,
Porque mataram meu tesouro.

Goodbye Bahia, zumzumzum


Cordao de Ouro
I'm going to leave
Because they have killed my
Besouro
Goodbye Bahia, zumzumzum
Cordao de Ouro
I'm going to leave
Because they have killed my
treasure

275

3. "Domingo no Panpe"
Gilberto Gil (Gil 1968-disc)
O rei da brincadeira
E Jose
O rei da confusdo
tJoao
Um trabalhava nafeira
t. Jose
Outro na construgao
EJoao

The king of folly


Is Jos6
The king of confusion
Is Joao
One worked at the market
It's Jose
The other worked in construction
It's Joao

A semana passada
Nofim da semana
Jodo resolveu ndo brigar
No domingo de tarde
Saiu apressado
E ndo foi para Ribeira jogar

Last week
During the weekend
Joao decided not to fight
On Sunday afternoon
He left in a hurry
And he didn't go to Ribeira to
P'ay
Capoeira
He didn't go there
To Ribeira
He went out on a date

Capoeira
Ndo foi pra Id
Pra Ribeira
Foi namorar
O Jose como sempre
Nofim da semana
Guardou a barraca e sumiu
Foifazer no domingo
Um passeio no parque
La perto da Boca do Rio
Foi no parque que ele avistou
Juliana
Foi que He viu
Foi que He viu
Juliana na roda com Jodo
Uma rosa e o sorvete na mdo
Juliana seu sonho uma ilusao
Juliana e o amigo Jodo
0 espinho da rosa

Jose, as always
On the weekend
Closed his stall and disappeared
And went on Sunday
For a walk in the park
Near the "Mouth of the River"
It was in the park that he saw
Juliana
That is when he saw
That is when he saw
Juliana in the circle with Joao167
A rose and an ice cream in her
hands
Juliana, his dream, was an
illusion
Juliana and his friend Joao
The thorn of the rose

This is in reference to a circular spinning amusement park ride.

276
Feriu Ze
Feriu Ze
Feriu Ze
E o sorvete gelou seu coragdo

CutZe
CutZ6
GiitZe"
And the ice cream froze his heart

O sorvete e a rosa, 6 Jose

Oh the ice cream and the rose, oh


Jose"
The rose and the ice cream, oh
Jose
His saint on his chest, oh Jos6
Of the playful Jose", oh Jos6
The ice cream and the rose, oh
Jose
The rose and the ice cream, oh
Jose
Spinning in his mind, oh Jose
Of the playful Jose, oh Jose
Juliana spinning, oh spinning
On the giant wheel, oh spinning
On the giant wheel, oh spinning
His friend Joao, oh Joao

A rosa e o sorvete, O Josi


O seu santo no peito, 0 Jose'
Do Jose brincalhao, 0 Josi
O sorvete e a rosa, (!) Jose
A rosa e o sorvete, O Jose
6 girando na mente, O Jose
Do Jose brincalhao, 6 Jose
Juliana girando, O girando
O na roda gigante, 6 girando
6 na roda gigante, O girando
O amigo Jodo, 0 Jodo
O sorvete 6 morango, E vermelho
6 girando e a rosa, vermelho
6 girando girando, E\ vermelho
0 girando girando, E vermelho
O girando girando
Olhe afaca
Olhe afaca
Olhe o sange na mdo, E Jose
Juliana no chdo, E Jose
Outro corpo caiu
Seu amigo Jodo, E Jose
A manhd ndo temfim
EJose
Ndo tem mais construgdo
E Jose
Ndo tem mais brincadeira

The ice cream is strawberry, it's


red
Spinning and the rose is red
Spinning and spinning, it's red
Spinning and spinning, it's red
Oh spinning and spinning
Look out for the knife
Look out for the knife
Look at the blood on the hands, it
is Jose*
Juliana on the ground, hey Jose
Another body fell
His friend Joao, hey Joao
In the morning, there will not be
an end
Hey Jose"
There will not be any more
construction
Hey Jose
There will not be any more

277

E Jodo

games
Hey Jose
There will not be any more
confusion
Hey Joao

Eee
ESe
Eei

"Hey ay ay"
"Hey ay ay"
"Hey ay ay"

E Jose
Nao tern mais confusdo

278

Appendix B: Complete Musical Examples

1. "Berimbau Blues"
Dinho Nascimento (D Nascimento 2000a-disc
Introduction
m

Berimbau

Caxixi

0 *

f|

mr.,

,_, ,,

mm

Walking
Bass
"Bass"
Berimbau

rc

g m I ~-m-m-m~p-m-&

3=
_i

(1

' ' J "" J


|

=3

279

*^m

ft* |> \P (l

fl^

Cf

tf , f

czxnxnr,

^rY= ^izzs: t _

XLJ

r f r r r r

333=

j^-pH

P ,l..tr g

8^feY
-

-jrrrr

r r r

"I'-r"'!

r r r r r

p-p+p-^

r r r n

=s:

1)1

^
r r r f T r r f

y^r

:.:).'

r r r r r r r

r~ir^

-fy-

r n rr r rr LLLTLLU

ri, .
j -i . , ":..-f
1 it* 1 T -'
r-fi... ."".-" E

1^'

f r n r r r r H rr r r r f r r l f f r f f r

pp

J-IELTHJ

mm

280

-hf

4=

0 1>

,:, L.,ji=r7i~===rirr*t.

r
* i~V

,,,

' , <^r-r^n

f~

r r r f f r r t r r r r r r r r rr x

- f

r t r r r

-pi=-^j^j^

jty=p=fcj

<i J

" r rU :
J J J

rrrrf-fTT

rrrrrrrr'rrrr

* r r hf f |J J

rr r f r r r r i r r r r r r r r

,r r f f r

rT~irr

WWf.
JUiJl^J

rT-ir r r r r r r r

r r r r r T T T

281

SB" T T
r r r r r r r r T r r r r r r r 'rTTTTTT r ' r r r r r r r r

?=^
Play on Small Glass

TU r

i r r r

r r r fr p * ' T rr r r rr r ' r r r r r r r r

r r iy

T~rrtxrr

( f r

r r ~ t r r r r ir r r r

A Theme Continues to Coda

LL
T r

r
r

J J

ir

r
E

ir

r r

u n^

r r r T

i^

r T r

282

ML.
*J
n

-J-

pp

* r r ( r r r r' nxr r r r r'CJLJLf CULT r r r r LLJLJ-

-f-^fl-

Tr 1

4 1Tr

IT"

r r r r r r r r ir r r r r r r r ir f

ill*

r r r r r f

J >J |J r \

tiT

r t * j j \p

?>

P P

.1

LI

ifr

-H-

rlr r r r r r r~T
r y * j Ji

-Hf-

LLLJ

rrrrrrr rrrr r r r r r
rY
f r"J J I

_t

283

Coda
Motto Rilard

p p pr

r r f f r f r r+ r r r

fh

284

2. "La Danza da Tezalipoca Roja'


Ramiro Musotto (Santos n.d.-disc)

Berimbau

n n,n

"Caxixi"

,r

Hi Hat
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Synthesizer

iJi

rL+n~n ,n n

8tl> Note - Dotted Quarter Note

J.

J.
j,j,

J.

J73.J J>JT3J
L

4^__^

j.

285

IS B

ij^jljl^ijii^^
J. J. J. J.

Transition! 1:03
8th Note l 681 Note

J- J- J. J. J- J. J- J. J . J. J. J.

J J ic

Transition 2b
6 16th Sextupiet ^ 16th Note

rm

rm inn

JTTI

IJ J
>J J

JJ

286

35

IS:
=E3E

J J

J J -+*-. ni

J J

.n^n J J

xx >j>j, >j>cx >| ?jx >jx x >jMX ;

f
j

j
i

JBl

287

XXLi

U-

J
I J

J71-J

J -

JT3-J
,/""] ^

/""] ^

j j j j J"j j j

J73J73JT31

p p p JJ3J73J

j x x J >J)< jxx J j j xx JH,

344

288

n-n J *

n* * ...

Coda(A)

J.
/T\

289
3. Divertimento para Berimbau e Vioiao (D'Anuncia^ao 1990a: 131-137)
Luiz D'Anunciacao (Escola Brasileira de Musica 1996-disc)

DIVERTIMENTO
PARA BERIMBAU E VBWO

Introduction
0:00

luiz O'Anunciflcao
1989

290

Cadencia
1:17

teft.

ted

^m.fli- '.
r-f

ff

r
B Motif
1:37
Meno mosso

Pig mosso

Efe

Menos

cerf.

rr/r cr.rrcfOTr

TT"T
* c

C Motif
Andante 2:26

132 A PEROmAO DOS SiTOSBSASElEISOS / 8Urteic5uBtiHW

r^&r

291

2:47

-e-

ffifct

"ft?

ELTT air r

> >
r

r
$

-4

r-f

292

r~t

3:22

J>>

J
a

B Motif to conclude section


3:30

ffi
.W

-ah*/ ,,,, A . W rtft,,A


7
0

v f>y f f >

+.

134 - A n KXKSSe t$HTIIOSSESIUU!O$ / smrtcwMtmtiictm

--5z

I.7?

293

Cadencia 3:3$
Vioteo

__ A

._

poco

a poco

Loco

294
5:09

--

136 - APSRCUSSiiODOSRITWSWASILSIBOS / siwrtwiaBSUAtscw

Tr

295

A Motif
6:14
Mosso

ced

Introductory Motif
6:26

ced...
Cantabile

rr

Ep
B Motif Concludes Piece
6:42.,
Mos&o

cedendg

-_-

296

Bibliography
Allen, Scott Joseph
2001
'"Zumbi Nunca Vai Morrer:' History, the Practice of Archaeology,
and Race Politics in Brazil." Ph.D. dissertation, Brown University.
Almeida, Bira
1986
Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Andrade, Mario de
1944
"Candido Ignacio da Silva e o Lundu." Revista Brasileira de Miisica
10:17-39.
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Discography
(CD unless otherwise noted)
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1970
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Gilberto Gil: Encyclopedia Musical Brasileira. Warner Music Brasil.
857381557-2.
Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho
1996
Capoeira Angola from Salvador, Brazil. Smithsonian/Folkways. SF
CD 40465.
M4J
1998
Brazil - Electronic Experience. Trama. 0004.
Menezes, Margareth
1989
Um Canto Pra Subir. PolyGram. 841561-1. LP.
1993
LuzDourada. PolyGram. 519 537-2.
Metheney, Pat
1980
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. PolyGram. 26255.
Musotto, Ramiro
2003
Sudaka. Fast Horse. 81752-2.
Nascimento, Dinho
2001a
Berimbau blues. Eldorado/Gente Boa. 935106. Orig pub 1996.
2001b
Gongolo. Eldorado/Gente Boa GB002.
Olodum
1992
A Musica do Olodum. Continental 1.07.405.515. LP.
1999
A Musica do Olodum 20 Anos. Columbia 2-495526.
Pastinha, Mestre
1969
Capoeira Angola Mestre Pastinha e Sua Academia. Philips. SCDPPF-001/GB. LP.
Pinto, Tiago de Oliveira
1988
Berimbau e Capoeira - BA Notes by Tiago de Olivera Pinto.
FUNARTE. INF-46. LP.

310
1990

Capoeira, Samba, Candomble Bahia Brasil. Berlin: Staatliche


Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

Powell, Baden
1963
Baden Powell: AVontade. Elenco. ME-11. LP.
Powell, Baden and Vinicius de Moraes
1966
Os Afro Sambas. Corapanhia Brasileira de Discos (Forma).
FM16/FE1016. LP.
Ram Science
1999
Ram Science: E Musical Trama. T200 098-2.
Reis, Mario
1932
"Fita Amarela" Originally Recorded in 1932. Reissued in 2000 on
Raizes do Samba: Mdrio Reis. EMI Brasil. 525279-2.
Rescala, Luiz Augusto (Tim)
n.d.
"Peca para Berimbau e Fita Magn6tica." Unpublished Recording.
Rodrigues, Virginia
1997
Sol Negro. Hannibal. HNCD 1425.
Santos, Lulu
n.d.
LigaLd. Ariola. 7432152339-2.
Suassuna, Mestre and Dirceu
1975
Capoeira: Cordao de Ouro: Mestre Suassuna e Dirceu. MusiColor.
1-104-405-102. LP.
Tavares, Mario
1979
Ganguzama. Recorded 7 December. Unpublished recording.
1999
Ganguzama. Recorded [?] October. Unpublished recording.
Traira, Mestre
1958 [?] "E Besouro." Audio recording deposited in the archive of the
Biblioteca Amadeu Amaral, Rio de Janeiro.
Various Artists
1968
A Bienal do Samba. Phillips R 765 044 L. LP. "Lapinha" reissued in
1988 on Fascinagao: O Melhor de Elis Regina. Philips. 836-844-2.
2001
Destination Brazil: Sultry Rhythms of Corcovado Nights. Sugo
Music. SR0103.
Vasconcelos, Nana
1980
Saudades. ECM Records ECM. 1-147. LP.
1995
Storytelling. Hemisphere. 7243 8 334 442 0.

311

Videography
Fry, Peter
1982
Carnival Bahia. Films Incorporated Video.
Grosset, Didier
1990 Goree, On the Other Side of the Water. Unesco.
Ornellas, Eliana and Marcos Tourinho
1989
O Som dos Instrumentos: O Berimbau. IRDEB/TVE, Salvador.
Talbot, Toby.
1971
Berimbau. 16mm color, New Yorker Films.
Teles, Eladio Garcia
1999 A Lenda da Arvore Sagrada {"The Legend of the Sacred Tree "). Rio
de Janeiro: independent production.

312

Interviews
Araiijo, Samuel, Brazilian ethnomusicologist and musician.
2004
12 April, telephone conversation, Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten notes.
Cravo Neto, Mario, Brazilian fine artist
2003
Electronic mail correspondence, 13 November.
D' Anunciagao, Luiz, Brazilian musician and composer.
2001
Lessons and interviews, 9 February to 27 June, Universidade Federal
do Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten notes and MiniDisc recording.
2004
Telephone conversation, 12 April, Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten notes.
Ferreira, Deraldo, capoeira master.
1996-97 Lessons and interviews, 23 September 1996 to 24 January 1997,
Brazilian Cultural Center of New England, Cambridge. Handwritten
notes and tape recording.
Galm, John K.
2003
Handwritten correspondence, 11 November.
Grande, Joao, capoeira grand-master.
1997
8 February, Capoeira Angola Center, New York. Handwritten notes
and tape recording.
Macedo, Nelson, Brazilian musician and composer.
2000
22 December, informant's residence, Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten
notes and MiniDisc recording.
Maia, Ramilson, Brazilian musician and composer.
2001
19 May, informant's recording studio, Sao Paulo. Handwritten notes
and MiniDisc recording.
Musotto, Ramiro, Brazilian musician and composer.
2004
20 February, telephone interview, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Handwritten notes.
Nascimento, Claudia Tatinge
2004
Handwritten notes, 10 March.
Nascimento, Dinho, Brazilian musician, composer and capoeira practitioner.
2001
17 May, informant's residence, Sao Paulo. Handwritten notes and
MiniDisc recording.
Negative Mestre (Ramon Lopes), Brazilian musician, composer and capoeira
master.
2001
18 May, SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo. Handwritten notes and MiniDisc
recording.
Negreiros, Carlos, Brazilian musician.
2001
16 March to 1 May, informant's residence, Rio de Janeiro.
Handwritten notes and MiniDisc recording.
Nenel, capoeira master.
2001
5 June, Academia da Filhos de Bimba, Salvador. Handwritten notes
and MiniDisc recording.

313
Rescala, Luiz Augusto (Tim), Brazilian musician and composer.
2000
6 December, informant's Electroacoustic production and recording
studio, Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten notes and MiniDisc recording.
Silva, Efraim, capoeira master.
1997
11 February, informant's capoeira academy, New Haven. Handwritten
notes and tape recording.
Silva, Wellington Gomes da, Brazilian composer.
2001
6 June 2001, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador. Handwritten
notes and MiniDisc recording.
Tacuchian, Ricardo, Brazilian composer.
2001
19 June, informant's residence, Rio de Janeiro. Handwritten notes and
MiniDisc recording.
Tavares, Mario, Brazilian composer.
2001
27 June, Rio de Janeiro, informant's residence. Handwritten notes and
MiniDisc recording.
Vanni, Manoel, Brazilian musician and composer.
2001
Also Present was Franco Junior. 16 May, informant's residence, Sao
Paulo. Handwritten notes and MiniDisc recording.